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The cherry on top of Business Cluster

Wednesday, December 7 2016 12:00am

College of Business Honors students develop breakfast restaurant concepts.

By Mackenzie O'Dwyer 

It can take years to develop a restaurant concept. For College of Business Honors students, it took 7 weeks. Sophomores in the Honors Business Cluster developed and presented restaurant concepts to College of Business professors, the Bob Evan’s executive team and the Ohio Restaurant Association.

“They asked us tough questions like we were a real business,” said Jackie Andrascik, whose team presented Adeline’s Apron, a homestyle takeout restaurant concept, to the Ohio Restaurant Association. “It forced us to think on our feet, but it also showed us how far our projects have come this semester.”

The Business Cluster challenges sophomores to apply what they’ve learned from four disciplines: management information systems, management, finance and marketing. This semester, the Honors students completed two intensive projects. The first project required each team to conduct an analysis of the restaurant industry.

“Like any business owner, you have to do you research first,” said Sadie Hickle, team member on the Adeline’s Apron project.

Gathering market research prepared students with the background knowledge needed to develop their own business ideas. They also heard from successful restaurateurs during class, including Jane Grote Abell, CEO of Donatos Pizza; Scott Moffitt, CEO of Sunny Street Café; Craig Weiss, vice president of operations at Domino’s Pizza; and Jodie Conrad, senior director of marketing at Fazoli’s. 

“Conducting research allowed us to raise the bar when developing our own restaurant concepts,” said Hickle. “We identified key success factors and new trends that would contribute to the success of our business concepts. Everything was backed up by data.”

During the second project, each team applied their knowledge to create everything from projected financial statements to a marketing campaign. But, it was not as easy as pie. The students faced obstacles along the way and the time commitment required each team member to hold their weight of the project.

“Group projects always present challenges. If you disagree with a team member, you have to find a compromise. If your teammates have busy schedules, you have to split up the work and count on each other to get everything done,” said Brian Baker, member of the Breakfast Bowl team, a fast-paced, assembly line restaurant concept. “But that’s what it’s like in the real world. We gained hands-on, practical experience through this project.”

The students spent an entire semester working in teams and by the end, many of the students were invested in their restaurant concepts. A few of the teams created t-shirts and aprons as a final touch to their presentation.

“You end up doing more than you need to for the project because there is passion behind the work you’re doing,” said Olivia Holbert, team member who helped develop the concept for Batters, a sweet and savory breakfast assembly line restaurant. “Business Cluster is an experience that is challenging and life-changing for students.”

As the semester came to an end, each team presented their ideas to College of Business professors and industry professionals, including Brian Bailey, CEO and president of Ichor Restaurant Group. Having the opportunity to showcase their work was the cherry on top of a successful semester for College of Business Honors students in the Business Cluster.