The Creek Cafe

Project Description
The Creek Cafe is a full-service cafeteria operating from 7:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. during the school week. Opened in January of 1991, the Cafe succeeds a cafeteria closed by the school district due to poor sales and an annual operating loss.

The business philosophy of our enterprise is to "give the students what they want." We do not serve (or prepare) the typical school lunch. Local businesses deliver our entree items (pizza, subs, chicken sandwiches and nuggets, Chinese items, and smoothies) each day. Our task is to keep the food at the proper temperature and serve it to our hungry fellow students. We complement entree items with other snacks such as candy, chips, soft drinks, cookies, ice cream, muffins, soft pretzels, bagels, milk and fruits. We do not receive any federal funds so we are not restricted as to our food selections.

The Creek Cafe
seats approximately 450 students with a serving area of only about 600 square feet. In addition, we have two offices, a dry storage and a walk-in freezer and refrigerator. We are inspected semi-annually by the health department and we are a fully licensed food establishment.

The business is wholly owned and operated by the Cherry Creek DECA Chapter. We employ one full-time adult manager and four student managers who are selected by marketing department teachers. All marketing students work in the Cafe in their free periods during the course of the year. Only the student managers are compensated financially; however, profits from the enterprise are partially used to fund student activities and DECA competitions. Many of our senior students receive their work experience credits through their hours at the cafe. The Creek Cafe makes it easier for advisors to schedule work experiences for their students since our marketing program is large (approximately 300).
Cherry Creek High School, located in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, has an enrollment of approximately 3,500 students, grades 9-12, with an open campus policy. During their 48-minute lunch periods, the student population can flood the many nearby fast food restaurants that offer a variety of food choices. Consequently, we attempt to be very competitive on our prices. Fortunately, because we buy in large quantity, our vendors offer us a substantial discount besides furnishing daily deliveries. Our food costs average 50% for most items.

Annual sales will exceed $270,000 this year. The first $35,000 of profits are paid directly to the DECA chapter, with the balance split 50/50 between the chapter and the high school.This operation has been exciting, successful and rewarding. However, like any student store operation, it is also demanding and time-consuming.
The exterior of the Creek Cafe.

Students form a line for check out after making their selections.

The Creek Cafe

I: Learning Value of the Enterprise Project 

The Creek Cafe serves as an actual lab for our marketing students. This real-life business provides an opportunity to "practice what we preach." Customer service, cash register operation, buying, salesmanship, pricing, advertising and promotion, display, market research, employee relations, financial statements and inventory control are some of the units of study having a direct correlation to the operation of this enterprise. The teachers continue to use the actual experiences of the students (both good and bad) as a complement to curriculum and instructional units. Direct and immediate feedback to individual students on their performance occurs regularly from both the teachers and managers. That our students can actually apply what they learn in the classroom is of great value in validating both the need and purpose of our curriculum.

II: Value of the Enterprise to the School
With our open campus, the Creek Cafe provides our students with a choice, that of staying on school grounds over lunch periods. We feel that our parents, teachers, administrators and the community are very appreciative of this fact. A strong sense of pride that our students have succeeded with this operation also exists within the school. We also offer school clubs, teams, parents and community-members-at-large the opportunity to use our facility during evenings and weekends. Even though this often requires additional effort, the public relations benefits gained are worth the price. We also provide complimentary food to our faculty (on special occasions) and to special guests throughout the year.
III: Relationship of the SBE to the Community
Perhaps the strongest relationship, and most obvious, is with the businesses that supply the Creek Cafe with supplies each day. We feel we enjoy a classic win-win situation. Many of our vendors go beyond the basics by providing us with extended service and helpful instruction. Many have even expanded their commitment to our program by serving as advisory board members, guest speakers or as judges for DECA competitions. We naturally savor the positive responses we receive from the school board, central administration, parents and the many members of the community that we come in contact with. Without their support it would be impossible to maintain our operation at its current profitable level.

IV: Vendor Sources
Maui Wowi Smoothies Domino's Pizza
Robinson Dairy Chick-Fil-A
Otis Spunkmeyer Cookies and Muffins Blimpie Subs
Frito Lay, Inc. Flower Drum Chinese
King Soopers Coca-Cola USA
Alliant Food Service Paragon Foods
Dip 'n Dots Ice Cream American Concessions

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