Au Sable Cafe Set to Serve its First Cup of Coffee Next Semester
A new coffee counter will be open for business spring 2024 semester in SUNY Plattsburgh’s School of Business and Economics lobby.
A student initiative that began about two years ago led to what will be a student-run enterprise involving all aspects of the business and economics programs, according to John Parmelee, assistant to the dean and lecturer in management, information systems and analytics and formerly lecturer in hospitality management.
“There will be aspects of supply chain, accounting and finance, business administration, hospitality and management — this will integrate all our programs to the best of our abilities,” he said.
Wanda Carroll, lecturer in supply chain management and international business, said the idea began to percolate during a September 2021 visit to campus by alumnus Norman Radow ’78, founder of RADCO Companies in Atlanta, Ga., and seasoned real estate litigation, workout, and transactional lawyer.
No Place to Meet Alumni
Radow has a long history of philanthropic involvement with the university, supporting in addition to a history scholarship and the Douglas Skopp Social Justice Scholarship, an economics scholarship in the SBE. On his September 2021 visit, Radow sat with SBE students and mentioned there was no where for students to meet with alumni and other potential recruiters. The beans of starting a coffee shop were planted.
Carroll created a survey asking students what they’d like to see.
“We researched universities worldwide to see who had student-run programs,” Carroll said. “We asked students what their spending power would be, what they wanted for this space.” More than 250 students responded. “We did more research; John and I worked on a plan, had several meetings with College Auxiliary Services and Chartwells.”
They pointed to an under-utilized spot in the SBE lobby near the rest rooms and elevator that features a counter window where beverages and grab-and-go food items could be passed through.
“We have a collaborative relationship with CAS and Chartwells; they’ve been helping us get set up,” Parmelee said.
Work with Existing Class
Academically, Parmelee and Carroll have been looking at an existing class that can act as the vehicle to staff the cafe, which will offer experiential learning experiences and create a sustainable model.
“We’re trying to utilize students in different majors, different capacities and gain academic experience as well, and we’d like to use locally roasted coffee and other items,” he said.
The plan was presented to the dean and provost in the early summer of 2023. It was approved for operation in mid-November. Carroll is polling students for a name, but for now, Au Sable Cafe it is.
Feb. 5 Grand Opening
Dr. Brian Neureuther, dean of SBE, said his team is eyeing a Feb. 5 grand opening for now. Evidence that something is happening shows. The lobby area has already begun a transformation with furniture moved about. A high-top laptop table will be placed in the alcove near the David and Susan Zebro Student Commons, couches have been moved out by the sliding doors of the Hermes Conference Room.
“What cost there is — new furniture, including the high-top laptop station table — is coming from the hospitality budget,” Neureuther said. “Chartwells has graciously volunteered to donate refrigeration for the kitchen and a point-of-sale system. They like to work with students and have done this kind of project at other universities they serve.”
— Photo, Story By Associate Director of Communications Gerianne Downs