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Illinois

Real estate firm, art gallery opens


Blue Bear Cafe cooks up success

Walking previous Mount Airy High School alongside North South Street, you may discover the partitions, sidewalks, and signage of a typical academic establishment—however you most likely do not realize that there is additionally a thriving enterprise inside its confines.

On a current morning on the Blue Bear Cafe as the college yr drew to a detailed, Ocean Davis, a senior, put the ending touches on a fruit smoothie after beforehand serving cookies and brownies to a grateful recipient. Chances are that one other buyer will quickly be ordering a freshly brewed cup of latte from the student-run institution.

The espresso on the Blue Bear Cafe is alleged to be so scrumptious that trainer Ashley Pyles did not hesitate to check what the youngsters put together to what a global espresso home chain gives:

“They make the best coffee through Starbucks every day,” Pyles stated proudly.

In addition to quite a lot of coffees — together with frappe, latte, and americano — completely different flavors of fruit smoothies, numerous candy treats like Bundt cake, snacks, sizzling chocolate, apple cider, and extra can be found.

The menu on the Blue Bear Cafe additionally contains specialty drinks with what appears to have develop into a neighborhood sensation, bubble teas.

But maybe the perfect product served there may be success – cooked each day by apron-wearing scholar entrepreneurs who all through the college yr achieve invaluable enterprise expertise that may assist them of their careers.

“It’s never about the coffee,” stated Polly Long, Workforce Initiatives Coordinator, when discussing the mission, or the caffeine, the stimulating ingredient on this in style drink.

“It’s about the skills,” added Long, a longtime worker of the college system who has acquired quite a lot of credit score for making the enterprise on campus a actuality.

“A student-run cafe has been a dream of Polly Long for years,” reads an announcement ready at the side of the Blue Bear Cafe program, which acquired particular recognition from the town authorities throughout a current council assembly. This assertion additionally refers back to the function that “students with exceptional talents” have performed of their success.

The café, which was created in 2019, goals to supply younger folks with coaching in important entry-level expertise and create a path to employment within the service business.

For instance, junior Jennifer Griffin has her aim of turning into a pastry chef.

The Blue Bear Cafe is run by the School’s Department of Vocational Studies and is run by academics Jennifer Gentry and Ashley Pyles alongside Long.

“Jennifer is kind of our pastry chef,” Gentry stated of Griffin’s most well-liked function on the operation.

Approximately 10 college students are enrolled in this system throughout any given educational yr. They additionally frequently attend programs and work for the cafe along with a sure variety of hours that represent class instances. It is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. throughout college phrases.

Student Innovators

The Blue Bear Cafe occupies a strategic spot in the highschool’s media middle, offering an inviting surroundings to take pleasure in a drink or snack that arguably rivals any coffeehouse on the planet. The space is pleasantly lit by massive home windows going through the north-south avenue.

The location was organized with the help of Goodwill Industries, Long stated, which helped present seed capital to buy new furnishings and equipment.

It is tastefully adorned with partitions painted in comfortable shades of brown and olive inexperienced, on which phrases reminiscent of “serving kindness one cup of the time” and inspirational phrases reminiscent of “imagine”, “create”, “inspire” and others are printed.

The college students reply by continually including new drinks and even growing a web site to advertise the enterprise. A Blue Bear Cafe Facebook web page is on the market to assist with orders.

The facility’s spick and span kitchen is situated in an adjoining room, close to a counter space the place college students try library supplies as a part of the twin, harmonious existence between the 2 services. A present store specializing in student-made objects can be situated within the café and gives objects reminiscent of mugs and t-shirts, in addition to handmade objects from native entrepreneurs.

Together with the culinary abilities refined by the younger folks, different expertise are discovered that they’ll apply to many different skilled ventures along with a café.

These embody management, communication, organizational expertise, and teamwork, in addition to the real-world features of public dealings with taking orders, giving change on the register, and processing bank card orders.

“You see it in real time,” Long stated of the impression outsiders get once they can witness schooling being utilized to an precise enterprise. The college students concerned are a mixture of highschool and junior highschool college students who guarantee a seamless transition with data switch coming and going.

“You’re basically learning how to run your own business,” Pyles famous.

While the cafe is closed for the summer season earlier than resuming enterprise for the beginning of subsequent college yr, it is in style with the general public, who can name on campus and choose up orders.

In different instances, massive orders are even delivered to clients.

“We’re in the black,” Long stated of the price of that service given the rise in gasoline costs. “We’re trying to break even,” with all income going straight again into the enterprise.

“We use some of that money to take them (students) on field trips,” Gentry suggested.

Long hopes to broaden the Blue Bear Cafe to a downtown location if one could be discovered beneath the fitting circumstances.

City awards

The scent of success from the Blue Bear Cafe wafts by means of to City Hall a number of miles away, as evidenced by the particular recognition it acquired throughout a current assembly of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.

Pyles attended this session together with two college students, Griffin and his classmate Shatavia Robison, who have been there to present a presentation on this system which was highlighted by the women handing out chocolate chip cookies to these in attendance.

The cookies got here in colourful packaging with labels extolling sentiments like “be nice” and “choose happiness.”

“This program is about our kids first,” Pyles stated of the hassle, which “just blew me away.”

“The Blue Bear Cafe is one of the brightest lights of the Mount Airy school system,” famous Commissioner Jon Cawley, thanking Polly Long for her service.

“I know you will go far in life,” Commissioner Marie Wood instructed the scholars.

“Great job ladies,” stated Joe Zalescik of the board.

“That’s what a community like Mount Airy is and can be,” Mayor Ron Niland stated of the cafe’s success.

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