Cougar Perk reopens
Warm smiles and delicious smells greeted Conant staff members as they walked into the faculty cafeteria on Friday, February 12. Blue and red decorations adorned the room, leading to a table topped with a variety of food. This was the long-awaited grand reopening of Cougar Perk, the bakery open only to the faculty and run by students in the Practices in Entrepreneurship (PIE) class.
“[The students] are very professional and they make good food,” said Megan Hebert, a math teacher.
The class has been run for over five years by business teachers Patricia Ertl and Jacqueline Brown, and Angela Drenth in the family and consumer sciences department. During first semester, the students learned how to start a business and worked on preparing the food that they would later sell in the bakery with the standards that were set by their predecessors.
This factor, according to Brown and Drenth, was the biggest challenge: teaching a new group of students how to make the food and run the bakery in order to reach the bar set by the previous group of students. Normally, older students who have participated in the class before help the new students, but Drenth explained that they did not have as many experienced students this year.
The class also provides students the opportunity to earn both their food handling license and sanitation certificate, which, as senior Dee Napathalung said, can help students in real life.
During second semester, the students will run the bakery on Friday mornings in the faculty cafeteria from around 7:15 to 8:30 a.m. An announcement will be made on these days to let the teachers know when the bakery is open. Ertl explained that the reason that the baked goods cannot be sold to students is due to “school regulations.”
The students cook the food on Tuesdays and Thursdays and clean up from the bakery on Fridays. On the following Mondays, the students go over the receipts from the bakery and talk about what was spent and what was earned, along with ways to improve the business.
The menu consists of coffee, bacon and spinach quiche tarts, cinnamon rolls, apple turnovers, chocolate chip coffee cakes, salted butterscotch coffee cakes, cranberry scones, banana bread, fruit, yogurt, granola parfait and a special that will change every week. The top selling item, added Ertl, is the bacon quiche tart. These items can be pre-ordered online via an online order form, which is sent to the staff by email each week. Students then deliver the food on Friday, or teachers can pick it up at the bakery.
Pre-ordering, said Ertl, is the best way for teachers to ensure that they get the baked goods they want before they sell out.
Each bakery item is sold for $1.50, and the money earned goes back to the foods classes, whether it be for supplies, uniforms, t-shirts, aprons and field trips.
Jodie Weintraub, a Spanish teacher, said that the class “gives students a wonderful opportunity to get real life experience and to get to know the staff of the school in a different environment.”
The students have to show a real commitment to the class, as they have to get there at around 6:10 a.m. in order to get everything ready and then work the bakery on Friday mornings.
Ertl explained that the students who really enjoy the class beg to arrive earlier than necessary even when they get used to the process and don’t need the extra time to prepare. Napathalung said that she takes the class because baking is a “stress reliever” for her.
The bakery continues to be a success because it is enjoyed by both the staff and PIE students, providing delicious food and business experience.