What’s Brewing in the Lower Commons?

The area near the commons will soon host both a small coffee shop and school store.

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Coffee, tea, school supplies, small snacks, and school apparel. These are all items that will soon be sold at the school store and cafe, located in the lower commons.The cafe will open to teachers in the next few months, and the store is expected to open sometime during the second trimester.

The school cafe will sell hot beverages including cappuccinos, lattes, espressos, hot teas, and hot cocoa. For the time being, it won’t sell any iced drinks or smoothies.

The cafe will be student led by a combination of students in special education programs and students who want work experience. Mary Cahoy, a career seminar teacher, said that this partnership will teach kids who receive special education services how to thrive in work environments.

She also explained how students can earn credit for working at the school cafe. Cahoy said, “I have a career seminar class, and anyone who takes my class can work at the cafe during and after school, and that would qualify for a school credit”

The school store will be led by students enrolled in the DECA and Entrepreneurship class, as business teacher Travis Birklid explained. Birklid commented that the school store will benefit RAHS because it will provide resources to students that are not otherwise readily available. The store will give the RAHS community a voice of what’s in the store as they consistently conduct market research throughout the year.

Future School Store Location

While the school store is set to open in the coming trimesters, there is no definite timeline. The leaders of the project are struggling to find their way around some tough obstacles, but they are optimistic.

“Currently we are just waiting for all elements of construction to be completed so that we can place inventory in the store. Boiling down the many great ideas into what we can initially feasibly offer for initial inventory is the biggest hurdle right now,” Birklid commented

While right now the school store and cafe are separate projects, the administrators of both hope that they will be able to work together in the future, ensuring the success of both the cafe and store.

Duccio Mondanelli, one of the special education teachers in charge of the school cafe said, “We are just sharing the space right now, but we are not connected in any way…eventually we do plan on working together with the school store, but we are still a different entity from them”

According to junior Ashwini Sandanayake, both projects are positive. She said, “I think it’s a good idea, especially if the revenue goes toward the school. I also think it’s something for kids to look forward to throughout the day if there are cafe drinks available to purchase.”

Many students said that they plan to use the store and cafe. Sophomore Kaelin Hubert said, “Yes, I plan on shopping at both, probably before school to get a snack or drink.”

The school store and cafe has already caught the excitement of other students. Senior Ava Fitzgerald said, “I love the idea of the store, it gives students who don’t play sports a chance to buy apparel… I also really love coffee”

Many staff and students may remember the last attempt at a cafe around two years ago. It was located in the library, and Cahoy and Mondanelli recall it being on the right track to success. The real reason it shut down was simply because of COVID. Mondanelli said, “We were doing really well and the students were loving it, but COVID came, and we didn’t have the ability to do it.”

Fitzgerald offered a different perspective on the old cafe. She remembered the cafe as a small project that was set up and taken down throughout the day, depending on what was happening in the media center. 

The new cafe has a bright future. Cahoy and Mondanelli mentioned that they just purchased a new espresso machine, and are looking forward to expanding the business.

The school store and cafe have plans of where the profits should go. Cahoy said how the money will be invested back into the cafe, buying new items to improve it. Birklid explained how the school store profits will go to support the DECA business and leadership program. 

In the future, the school store and cafe will at some point be open to all RAHS students, and hopefully will be successful. Spanish teacher David Brooks expressed his enthusiasm and said, “I think it’s a great option for students, we had one at my high school and we certainly used it.”