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Article - Success brewing at UNOs new student-run cafe

Success brewing at UNO’s new student-run cafe

Success brewing at UNO’s new student-run cafe

Stedman’s Café in Mammel Hall is named for the late Robert Stedman

Posted: Thu, Aug 11, 2016

The smell of bagels and coffee. … The smiles from other students. …

The smashing success so soon.

There are many perks, UNO students say, to working in Stedman’s Café, the newest coffeehouse on campus that opened in Mammel Hall, home to the College of Business Administration, in January.

 “The café’s success over the last semester is undeniable,” student manager Nicole Partusch said. “When we first opened, we started by only selling bottled beverages. Now we have a wide array of products provided by campus and local vendors at low prices.

 “The student and faculty support has been amazing, and it just continues to grow.”

But the biggest perk, the students say, is the hands-on experience they’re gaining each day working behind the counter as well as behind the scenes of a business they helped start from scratch.

It’s a learning lab.

“Stedman’s Café is a cafe run by students, for the students,” Nicole said.

This first semester, students in the College of Business Administration helped the café improve its processes; an economics class evaluated the café’s margins and social economics; a human resources class created its training manuals; and a graphic design class created a seamless marketing strategy for its digital displays.

The café’s workers listen to their student customers, says Zander Thornburg, the first student manager who graduated in May. For example, one day a student asked if the café would help with a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. The café agreed and gave some proceeds of its sales to support the student’s cause.

The café is supported by UNO’s Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Franchising (CIEF) and is named for the late Robert Stedman, a UNO alumnus who graduated in 1951 with a business degree. During his lifetime he was a strong supporter of UNO, having created a scholarship fund to benefit business students.

The concept for the café actually started with a student’s pitch in a business-plan competition. Dale Eesley, the CIEF’s director, continued to develop the idea and champion the concept. His hard work led to the approval of Stedman’s Café, Zander said, “and the amazing opportunities that have followed.”

“Ultimately,” she said, “the success comes from the café’s openness to accepting student feedback and accommodating those requests to the best of the café’s ability.”

The University of Nebraska’s Our Students, Our Future fundraising initiative will help make better futures for us all. The two-year, $200 million initiative runs through 2017. If you would like to help promising students like Nicole, please contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.
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