BrewBike set to take business indoors with opening of student-run shop in Annenberg


(Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer) BrewBike will get a physical space to sell its beverages and snacks in Annenberg Hall. The group is an independent, student-run startup.

Julie Fishbach, Reporter

BrewBike, Northwestern’s student-run cold brew-vending tricycle, isn’t letting the frigid Illinois winter stop business.

The BrewBike executive team partnered with the School of Education and Social Policy to open a shop in Annenberg Hall this quarter, with a two-week trial period aimed to begin later this month.

The BrewBike shop, which will be located in Annenberg’s lobby, is projected to be open Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m, which BrewBike’s board found to be the most profitable timeframe after compiling sales data from the fall, Philips said. In addition to cold brew, Philips, a SESP sophomore, said products such as hot coffee, matcha tea, baked goods from Bennison’s Bakery and potentially yogurt and Smartwater water bottles will be sold. The founders of BrewBike chose the space after discussion with SESP, whose offices occupy much of the building.

“We are excited about the opportunity to support an initiative created by undergraduate students and pleased there will be a place in the building for faculty, staff, students and guests to purchase coffee, cocoa and pastries,” Susan Olson, SESP assistant dean for student affairs told The Daily in an email.

Philips said BrewBike was lucky to find space on campus that does not have a Sodexo contract. Sodexo typically prohibits independently run food vending operations inside Sodexo-contracted buildings, Philips said. He added that the BrewBike executive team expressed to the SESP administration their desire to keep BrewBike a solely student-run venture.

BrewBike originally planned to partner with Northwestern Dining and Sodexo to open a student-run coffee shop in Café Bergson located in University Library but decided they wanted the business to be completely student-run, which they said would not have been possible under that collaboration.

If all goes well this quarter, Philips said he would like for both the shop and bike to be operating in the spring, but intends for the bike to remain the cornerstone of BrewBike’s operation. His ultimate goal is to open a permanent brick-and-mortar coffee shop by the time he graduates.

“(The) Annenberg (location) is the perfect step to working toward the full, student-run coffee shop,” Phillips said. “We’re all about experiential learning and being able to be as autonomous as possible and make our own decisions and learn from those.”

After their launch during Wildcat Welcome, BrewBike employees sold about 80 to 100 cups of their beverages per day from the bike parked outside of the Technological Institute, Philips said.

After a full quarter in business, Philips said the team has a stronger handle on how to successfully manage running a food service operation, such as creating a payroll system, paying taxes and producing extra coffee when demand is high. The company has expanded with the creation of positions like human resources, finance and marketing directors to generate greater efficiency.

“As we figure out the simple logistics, we can add on more complex systems that will drive sales and make our customers more happy,” Philips said.

SESP freshman and frequent BrewBike customer Talia Meidan said Annenberg’s central position on campus makes it an ideal spot for students who need to grab a drink or snack between classes. Meidan added that the fact BrewBike is student-run has contributed to the company’s support from fellow students on campus.

“It’s a concrete example that you can actually start your own business no matter how old you are,” she said.

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