Brew, serve, learn: Students run new coffee shop

Bill Althaus

Calling the opening of Campus Grounds a success would be an understatement. 

The student-run coffee shop, at 26911 E. U.S. 24 east of Fort Osage High School, has coffee and other drinks, food provided by the high school's culinary students and “lunch lady cinnamon rolls.” The steady stream of customers has continued throughout this week. 

Whitney Scott, right, director of the Entrepreneurial Studies program at the Fort Osage School District’s Career and Technology Center, visits with students who worked at last Saturday's grand opening of Campus Grounds. Students are, from left, Kayla Goodwin, Corrine Dolan and Otiato.

The site housed the former Rockin’ B Mercantile and Coffee Shop. The Fort Osage School District bought the property in June. 

Students from Eastern Jackson County high schools spend one day working their shifts, then the next day in a classroom setting on the second floor of the coffee shop. They earn credits running the shop. 

The coffee shop’s hours are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. If students work during school hours, they do not get paid. But if they work after school or on weekends, they do receive a paycheck. 

"It's the best of both worlds," said Corrine Dolan, who was working the cash register last Saturday. "I just feel so blessed to be a student in Eastern Jackson County when this opportunity came up.” 

"We're learning all kinds of important life skills along with entrepreneurship. It's hands on, real life – if something goes wrong, you figure out a way to fix it. But luckily, nothing has gone wrong today." 

Next to the serving area, coffee fans filled the dining area, sitting on overstuffed chairs and couches, while enjoying the rustic, yet totally modern, ranch style setting. 

"I love a good cup of coffee, and I am here to support my daughter," said Tom Dolan, Corrine's father. "These young people are doing a fantastic job, and the coffee and food are great." 

Watching all the activities is Whitney Scott, who oversees the coffee shop when she is not teaching her entrepreneurship classes upstairs. 

"This provides an opportunity that you can't get in a classroom setting, so there are real-world learning opportunities," she said. "We were very busy Saturday, and the business has continued throughout the week.” 

During the grand opening, breakfast burritos, turkey soup, a three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich and a variety of pastries were offered. 

"And I have to tell you about our famous lunch lady cinnamon rolls," Scott said. "A lunch lady at the high school made them in the 1950s, and we're still using her famous recipe. That is the only item that doesn't come from our culinary students, and everything is delicious."