Plans for coffee shop opening on hold… again

Laurel Wang | The Chronicle

Mason High School (MHS) students looking for a coffee break won’t find one this year, as plans for a student-run coffee shop continue to brew. 

The Cosmic Cafe was initially set to launch in the 2022-23 school year. However, the opening has now been postponed indefinitely. Supply chain issues and community demand for the expansion of other facilities caused Mason City Schools (MCS) to prioritize construction in other district buildings. The coffee shop team has received a rough timeline to open for business in the 2023-24 school year, but construction plans have yet to be finalized. 

MHS Alum Myles Tavernier (Class of 2022) initially proposed the idea for a redesigned Learning Commons and student-run coffee shop in 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced plans to be shelved. In 2022, Tavernier and a team of peers revived the project, working with MHS administration to create a business plan for the cafe. 

Although the coffee shop was not completed during his time at Mason, Tavernier entrusted the vision to a new group of leaders. 

“It made me a little disappointed because it’s the fourth team that’s been on this coffee shop,” Tavernier said, “[But] there is a coffee shop class now that’s able to keep it up and keep it running.”

Cosmic Cafe Internship students have taken the lead in building a business from the ground up. Junior Hannah Louis works in the operations branch and said the coffee shop is a highly collaborative effort. 

“It’s all of us working together and all of us supporting each other and making sure that we’re all working and participating,” Louis said. 

Students are involved in every facet of the business, from calculating menu prices and navigating Ohio’s School Nutrition guidelines to working with an architect on the coffee shop’s blueprints and contacting ingredient suppliers. 

Brandon Rompies, MHS Assistant Principal, said the redesign of the Learning Commons is part of several other updates to MCS buildings intended to update and expand learning spaces.

“We’d like to see a space where students can gather to work together, grab a cup of coffee, [and] create what is a modern-day collaborative workspace,” Rompies said. “We want it to be the hub for the whole high school.”

The coffee shop will be located in a newly-designed Learning Commons and include a seating area for students to enjoy their drinks in a relaxing environment. Student baristas will serve customers locally-sourced coffee, teas, smoothies and other beverages through an online ordering service.

Senior Emma Winegardner was an early member of the Cosmic Cafe team, joining the operations branch last year. She said that she hoped to see the coffee shop in operation during her time at Mason. Still, Winegardner said the class is taking advantage of the delay as an opportunity to evolve the coffee shop’s business plan.

“It was kind of sad to hear that we won’t have our coffee shop in the Learning Commons,” Winegardner said, “But I think it’s also a good thing that it was a little postponed because it gives us more time to make it perfect.”

All students in the class will participate in a barista training course with a local partner and are currently touring a variety of local coffee shops to learn more about the details of running a business. Winegardner said the team is preparing to use the time to expand collaborative efforts with the Mason community. 

“We’re looking for different ways to incorporate [the Mason community] into what we’re doing to make us better,” Winegardner said, “[Computer Science National Honor Society (CSNHS)] is helping us with our website, Comet Zone is going to be making our cups, uniforms, and merchandise, and Digital Image Design (DID) made our logo.” 

Senior Keshav Kamat works in the operations branch of the coffee shop. Despite the delay, Kamat said the Cosmic Cafe team is focused on the future of the coffee shop.

“We have a whole year to prepare for it so that the next seniors, next juniors, whoever it might be, even incoming freshmen, they’ll understand what they need to do, and Cosmic Cafe can be close to near perfect,” Kamat said.