Butler Brew to be replaced by student-run cafe

The new student-led coffee shop will remain in the same location as the current Butler Brew cafe, with a new design and marketing that is decided by LSB students. Photo by Riina Korri

OLLIE FITZGERALD | STAFF REPORTER | ofitzgerald@butler.edu 

ALLIE MCKIBBEN | NEWS CO-EDITOR | amckibben@butler.edu 

The Lacy School of Business (LSB), Bon Appétit and Butler’s Transformation Lab have announced a pilot version for a student-run coffee shop that will replace Butler Brew in the fall of 2024.

Organizers in LSB, such as Emily Hawk, assistant dean of innovation, and Callie Wright, the Transformation Lab lead project manager, have been working with Bon Appétit to create this project. Hawk has been working on the project for over a year, with the help of Stephanie Hinshaw, executive director of the Transformation Lab, and Melissa Beckwith, the lab’s chief strategy officer. Hawk explained that they hope to turn the new cafe into an innovative model that can be used across Butler’s campus and at other universities. One of the main ideas behind the creation of this cafe is to help provide different food options across campus and to create more job opportunities on campus.

“We already have a wonderful coffee shop called Butler Brew in the atrium level of Dugan Hall,” Hawk said. “So the question was, would Bon Appétit be interested in converting that coffee shop to a student-led, student-run operation? And Bon Appétit said, ‘Yes,’ enthusiastically.”

The current manager of Butler Brew, Mike Scott, will continue to manage the cafe with students running the rest of the shop. Hawk said Bon Appétit will not be letting go of any of its Butler Brew employees, and current Brew workers will instead be relocated to other dining areas on campus.

Hawk explained that students who are eligible for internship credits will be trained over the summer for leadership positions such as CEO, CFO and marketing specialist. These student managers will onboard other LSB students to be baristas, cooks and other employees. During the pilot, only LSB students will be employed, but the Transformation Lab hopes to expand the opportunity to other students in the future to help broaden experiential learning opportunities on campus.

The cafe will be student-driven as well, aiming to cater the menu and hours to student preferences. These changes will be done through market research and by asking students around the university what they would like to see implemented. These students will also be working on the name and design of the new cafe. The students will also work on fixing issues that the current cafe has such as long lines and wait times.

“If you’ve been in Dugan Hall during peak time, you know the lines are very long,” Hawk said. “I would charge our students to tackle that problem first. Are there new partners from the community and new vendors that they would like to bring in? Are there items on the menu that are so popular we need to make them available more often? Are the hours not the best?”

Wright has been working on the project for about six months. She believes this pilot emphasizes the way that Butler intends to bring experiential learning to students.

“It’s a chance to really lean into our dedication at Butler to experiential learning,” Wright said. “The best way to learn something is on-the-job training and really living out the things that you’re hearing in the classroom, and so one of the biggest things about this is making sure that we’re really leaning into that pillar of the Butler experience.”

Butler Brew supervisor Kianna Goliday will be staying at the new cafe to train the students who are employed. She agrees that experiential learning through running a business will give students insight into a career in entrepreneurship. However, Goliday said that even with full-time employees, scheduling, keeping up production and maintaining workers at Butler Brew has been difficult; she believes that these problems will become exacerbated when students take over the cafe.

“With students’ classes and all of the extracurricular activities they have going on, I just feel like it’s not going to work out with how busy we’ll be,” Goliday said. “I don’t think that they’re going to be able to handle it.”

The project is still in progress, with items like the menu and design to be determined by the students in charge. Those heading the project are excited to continue working on the cafe and to have it open in the fall for all students, faculty and staff to enjoy.


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