When OSU-Cascades assistant manager of dining Kirsten Weiss was asked to turn the coffee bar on campus into a student-friendly cafe, the hospitality management student knew she had found the perfect internship project. Students earning a degree in hospitality management apply classroom knowledge through three required internships.

Over the summer, Weiss analyzed sales data, met with coffee vendors, designed the space, reimagined the menu and trained the staff. When Study Grounds opened this fall, it was a hit.

"Learning by doing and solving real-world challenges is something our program takes a lot of pride in," said hospitality management program lead Todd Montgomery. "Kirsten did a fantastic job."

At the center of the Study Grounds redesign was the coffee. OSU-Cascades is the first location to serve local favorite Backporch coffee beyond its own stores. Also important was the food. Weiss has a culinary degree and wanted to create a menu that college students would love. She came up with savory stuffed croissants, homemade muffins, wraps that rotate weekly, and bagels. She sells a lot of bagels.

Weiss was determined to create a cozy space for students. She brought in couches and comfy chairs, plants for each table, and added background music for ambience. Most importantly, she trained and empowered her team of student workers. They text each other photos of successful latte art they create, lead events like Harry Potter trivia night, and feel comfortable suggesting new ideas to make Study Grounds even better.

It’s all working – daily sales are up. And it’s hard to get a spot on the couch.