It has been more than a year since Philadelphia-based hospitality and coffee company, Saxbys, opened its first exclusively student-run cafe within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) at Millersville University (MU), and it can now be seen that this innovative partnership has been a success for both students and the University.
The Experiential Learning Cafe at Millersville is run entirely by students and gives them the opportunity to earn credits for their semester while learning valuable business skills. Over the course of the last year, 59 students have worked in the cafe, representing 18 different majors at Millersville. Among those 59 students, 14,100 hours were worked by the all-student team. The team at Saxbys has also led guest lectures, panels and info sessions on MU’s campus that brought in over 150 student attendees. Two former Student Cafe Executive Officers (SCEOs) remained with Saxbys in strategic roles to help support future students.
Paige Robbins, one of the Student Cafe Executive Officers (SCEO) at Saxbys Millersville, says the program has aided her during her time in the experiential café. “As SCEO I went from knowing nothing of entrepreneurship to being completely responsible for a team of over 40, the community we serve and our business financials in six short months. I learned time management, how to inspire and lead, and my own self-worth in ways I never imagined,” said Robbins. “My SCEO term has resulted in degree changes, developed a working understanding of all aspects of a successful business, and taught me I am an innovative professional capable of proposing solutions for complex problems. I believe the skills I developed in such a quick six months set me apart in the professional landscape.”
Incoming SCEO Bryana Weston-Wyatt is excited to get started this fall as well, alongside Robbins.
Saxbys has also had a sizeable financial impact on campus. Approximately $420,000 of total capital was invested on Millersville’s campus to build the experiential learning cafe. The Saxbys Millersville team also contributed $7,000 to philanthropic causes such as the American Dream Scholarship Ride, an event held last September to help provide scholarships for five MU students.
Guilbert Brown, MU’s interim vice president for Finance and Administration, had high praises for the partnership between MU and Saxbys. “Our innovative partnership with Saxbys is an example of how a well-designed program can simultaneously achieve multiple goals,” he said. “It’s an example of how we can work together at Millersville to create remarkable experiences for our students, faculty and staff and visitors.”
Occupying the space in Gordinier Hall that previously held The Campus Grill, Saxbys has brought increased business to the hall. The café served 118,500 guests in the first year. Approximately 109,500 of those transactions involved the MU Dining Plan.
MU students have taken Saxbys in with open arms, and Saxbys Founder and CEO, Nick Bayer took notice of this. “From the initial conversation with Trustee Jordan Harris about a possible partnership with his alma mater to my recent leadership team coffee on campus on the last day of classes, our partnership with Millersville has been nothing short of exceptional. The cafe is run by a team exclusively comprised of 60 undergrad students and they continue to impress with their hard work, emotional intelligence and entrepreneurial skill sets.”
Bayer says a new patio area will be opened soon. Located off the rear of the café, this new area will provide outdoor seating and will overlook the Lombardo Welcome Center, another recent addition to the MU campus. “We’re really proud of our partnership with Millersville University and I can’t wait to enjoy the new patio overlooking the exceptional Lombardo Welcome Center!”