Blue Crew Brew gets approval for coffee shop location

Published 10:03 am Thursday, February 14, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — During the 2017-2018 school year, a group of Ross Beatty juniors and seniors set out to open a coffee shop. After months of planning, researching and coordination with the Village of Cassopolis, Blue Crew Brew has the approval of the village council to set up shop.

At the Monday combined village council and Cassopolis school board meeting, the village council voted unanimously to approve space at city hall for the BCB project to take residence.

Students from the BCB coffee shop project gave a brief presentation at the Monday night meeting to explain some of the research they did to determine the best location for their purposes.

The students looked at four locations in downtown Cassopolis for potential coffee shop spaces — the fromer Village Hall, an unoccupied space at the current Village Hall, the former fire department building and the Sinclair Station.

Accompanying them to each location was a Wightman architect and other local architectural professionals who provided insight and guidance for determining which space would be most efficient and cost effective for the project. The students of the BCB project presented a popup shop at the Sinclair Station in October of 2018 to preview what the business could look like in Cassopolis.

That space and experience nearly swayed the students’ decision toward the Sinclair Station. After touring each building and thoroughly discussing which building was most suitable for their needs, the students chose the vacant space at the current Village Hall for its functionality and business readiness.

“There was a lot of planning going into determining location,” said Renee Manno. “We started a SWAT analysis for each place. Presenting those was eye opening for them.”

Manno is the district New Tech coach and college and career readiness coordinator who has overseen the BCB coffee shop project. Through the process of planning a business, choosing a building and presenting a business plan to the community, the BCB project has characterized the purpose of New Tech, project-based learning in Cassopolis.

“This couldn’t be a better example of project-based learning as they are looking into college and career readiness,” Manno said. “It’s allowing students to use working with the coffee shop as part of work-based learning to get some hands-on experience.”

All of the work is still ahead of the students participating in BCB project. Now that they have the approval of the village council to use the vacancy at Village Hall they have to prepare the space to be a coffee shop, write up budgets and designate roles in the business. The work they have already accomplished, however, has prepared them well for what is ahead, according to Manno.

“Now they’ll work on vision and business plan and long-term goals,” Manno said. “At the popup coffee shop they understood what it took to have something like that in operation. They had greeters at door, had students doing different tasks, found out where they were all comfortable — the comradery was great between students.”

While the Blue Crew Brew coffee shop will be a great asset to the community, Manno sees all of the work and effort as uniquely valuable to the students. Not only are they creating something in their community for the community as a whole, they are leaving something behind for other students to come, and something for which they can take pride as time goes on.

“This is their project,” Manno said. “It’s been their journey with location, they’re the drivers.”