MAUMELLE - Have you ever had a Hot Hornet? What about a Carnahan? Have you ever indulged a Willie?
Those drinks are exclusive to the Maumelle Mug – the student-run coffee shop located in the Maumelle High School library. It’s only been open for two months, but it’s a smash hit with the student body.
The drinks are named after popular attractions in Maumelle. The Hot Hornet – named for the school mascot. The Carnahan – the school, sits near Carnahan Drive. The Willie – named after Lake Willastein.
“We sell a lot of Hot Hornets and cookies,” said Kendall Brown, a student who works daily at the coffee shop during the first lunch shift.
While Brown is not paid to work at the coffee shop, she is graded on how she interacts with customers, classmates, and how well she maintains inventory. That class is called Small Business Operations.
“I’ve learned it can be difficult [to run a business]. It’s fun though. When you’re running a business, it’s best to have someone else there with you to help you along the way,” Brown said.
“We’ve been able to make learning realistic,” Michelle Camp, teacher-slash-supervisor of the Small Business Operations class said.
Camp, who teaches business and marketing classes at Maumelle High, said the idea to start a coffee shop was the brainchild of her students. The school applied for and received a $36,000 grant from the Arkansas Department of Career Education to start the business. This initiative also led to a partnership with Westrock Coffee.
"The development of Team Skills, Customer Service Skills, and essential Social and Business Skills will give these students a head start in the Business World," David Atkins, Executive Vice President of Westrock Coffee said.
“We tested a lot of our drinks because we were trying to make sure it met the nutritional guidelines. Like the Frappuccino, we tried five different recipes before we found one that was good and still met the nutritional guidelines,” Camp said.
The class is more than just selling drinks and treats. Students have to undergo several lessons on sanitation practices, inventory, soft skills, and other business procedures—all while serving peers and school staff.
“What I hope is that when they leave here, they have a fully-developed résumé because they’ve done inventory. In most cases, only a manager does inventory,” Camp said.
Sandon Williams, the Program Coordinator for Business and Marketing Technology for the Arkansas Department of Career Education, said the Maumelle Mug is a worthy investment.
“The knowledge and skills that students have learned and will continue to practice within the Small Business Operations class will be invaluable throughout the students’ school career and beyond,” Williams said.
(Photo: Malachi Koester, Joshua Williams, and David Sanders)