Wright Tech high school students in Stamford learn how to run a cafe

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STAMFORD – For the high school students who run the newly created café The Wright Bean, one of their first tasks was, and rightly so, finding the right bean.

The students, all of whom are part of JM Wright Technical School’s Hospitality, Tourism and Customer Service Management program, have helped create The Wright Bean since its inception, from choosing which coffee beans to use the types of products to be served.

The menu currently includes brown and French roast blends and vanilla and caramel flavored coffees to accompany a selection of smoothies and milkshakes.

Finding the right balance with the menu has been a learning process, said Kendra Jenkins, an instructor in the hospitality department.

Jenkins asked the students to think carefully about their choices. For example, when shopping for perishable food, how much should they buy?

Students learned this lesson the hard way when they invested in wholesale strawberries, only to find that the strawberry smoothies they all enjoyed in class didn’t sell as well to customers: some products went bad before. to be able to sell them.

Strawberry smoothies were finally canceled.

“There is nothing better than real hands-on experience,” said Karina Malek, head of the hospitality department.

More than 30 students are in the program, which runs from ninth to 12th grade.

The hospitality department is one of the newer ones in the school, Jenkins said. Trade schools such as Wright Tech – which includes students from Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Weston, Westport and Wilton – are generally known for their electrical, culinary, hotel and automotive specialties.

The global program offers students a wide range of certifications, including Serve Safe, OSHA training, and hotel certifications.

Jenkins said there is a misconception that trade schools do not prepare students for career and college preparation

“I find trade schools to be the best of both worlds,” she said. “They give you a great skill set and are meant to prepare you for your first job.”

The idea for Wright Bean, which opened in March, was to create a business that students could grow from scratch. It involves learning marketing and sales as well as coming up with a logo and business model and promoting it on social media.

Students learn how to run the business, including preparing and serving drinks, as well as interpersonal skills such as welcoming and interacting with customers.

The company has ventured outside the walls of Wright Tech to serve customers.

Recently, Wright Bean students served staff at Cloonan Middle School in the faculty lounge. Prior to that, they created a pop-up beverage service at the Residence Inn Marriott in Stamford.

Jenkins is a qualified barista and has experience in the hospitality and customer service industry, having worked in this industry in New York City. One of the ideas she suggested to students, based on her own experience working in restaurants, was to use coffee ice cubes in the iced coffees sold at Wright Bean in order to preserve the flavor of the coffee.

So far, this idea has proven to be a winning one, especially with the Cloonan staff.

Malek said iced coffee was one of the top sellers, as were mango and vegetable smoothies. A few milkshakes, vanilla bean and cookie Monster, also top the list in terms of sales.

“We’re doing a lot of good things here,” Jenkins said.

Money from the store goes to the school and the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System. Some of the funds are also reinvested in the business to buy more equipment. There’s also a tip pot, Jenkins said, and the resulting money is used to offset the costs of field trips for students.

While The Wright Bean is still in its infancy, Jenkins and Malek continue to consider ways to grow the business, including adding food to the offerings.

“This is just the start,” Malek said. “We want to do more. “

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