Something Brewing in the Grand Entry

Westminster students created a new hit with a coffee shop on campus.

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Something Brewing in the Grand Entry

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In the past years, Starbucks was the obvious choice for those in need of coffee or a specialty drink. However, Westminster students have a new fix, found in the Grand Entry.

What is now known as Pawprint Coffee began as a series of ideas and trials as students strove to create a business idea that could be implemented within the school. Jonathan Horn, Business and Communications Department Chair, encouraged his students towards this goal.

“I was tired of talking about being creative and problem solving. So I challenged my class to come up with business ideas that Entrepreneurship could run in the future,” said Horn. The Entrepreneurship classes began brainstorming, and decided their product would be coffee.

Alex Lawrence, WCA Class of 2017, explained how the concept originated: “Our junior year – my friends Teddy Bacon, Brandon Beat, and I created the idea of opening a breakfast/coffee stand in the grand entry.”

Horn was immediately on board. “I have loved the idea since day one for many reasons. The best reason is it gets students out of the classroom and creating, as opposed to passively receiving information and doing some random project,” said Horn.

Pawprint began with the goal of filling a need. “Kids at Westminster were underfed and under-caffeinated in the mornings and we tried to come up with a convenient solution,” said Lawrence.

However, the endeavour has become a representation of much more at WCA.“It was not only about filling the morning time void many students experienced, but a struggle to promote and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit at Westminster,” Lawrence explained. “We all wanted to actually have the freedom to create something from nothing, and not just talk about it.”

The concept of opening a coffee shop at Westminster quickly gained support. However, Pawprint was not created overnight. “It took four years to get this through the pipeline,” said Horn.

Opening Pawprint was a process that required multiple stages. “After the first semester class did a ton of initial startup planning, my second semester class was able to move forward with implementing the ‘blueprints’ that they came up with,” said Lawrence.

“We worked on everything from physically building and painting store furniture, meeting with the administration to agree on how we could design the storefront, and visiting Kaldi’s to learn how they make coffee,” said Lawrence.

After years of work, Pawprint is now a functioning operation, located in the Grand Entry.

“I considered retiring for a few days and accepting this as the culminating point of my teaching career,” said Horn. “Fortunately, a bit of reflection gave me the urge to see the shop become profitable.”

Currently, this year’s entrepreneurship students are able to work at the shop and take part in managing the store. The current managers are seniors Rylie Koester, Ashley Zone, Parker Gelber, Luke Heintz, Ryan Timpone, Levi Wright, and Levi Alldredge.

Rylie Koester, senior, explains their responsibilities, saying, “The managers usually are the ones creating new ideas for the shop… we always have to receive the order and restock the shop, and eventually I think Mr. Horn will give us the financials.”

Students involved with Pawprint are able to gain more experience in the business world through this unique opportunity. “It’s still kind of crazy sometimes thinking that I am literally running a small business,” said Koester. “My friends and I are representing and growing a product that people actually want and are willing to pay for.”

While Pawprint is now successfully opened, there is still much behind-the-scenes work to be done. Horn and his students are now working on sustaining their company.

Horn explains that from a business standpoint, Pawprint is doing “average. We agreed the first 1-2 months should be focused on the product. Now, we are shifting our focus to making a profit. Some people think we are out back just printing money in the shop. The reality is a bit different. For instance, once we open a bag of espresso and chocolate sauce for a latte, it takes about 23 cups sold before we make any profit.”

Entrepreneurship students are always brainstorming new ideas to improve Pawprint’s operation. “We are constantly trying to bring new things in and make things easier and more efficient. We are trying to implement prepaid cards – where you can bring, say, $20 to put on a card. Then you wouldn’t have to bring your wallet the rest of the week because we would keep your card and swipe it when you come,” describes Koester.

From giving students the opportunity to take leadership in business roles to supplying caffeine to tired students, Pawprint is an accomplishment for involved graduates to look back on and new students to look forward to.