Students returning from Winter Break this week will find a new place to recharge, refuel, and relax.
The “C-Suite Café,” operated by Nashville-based Osa Roasters, has opened up shop in the former student lounge area. With warm tones, café-style seating, premium-blend coffee, and fresh-baked goods, the café represents a completely new experience for Vanderbilt Business students.
“You’ll definitely feel like you’re walking into a cafe, rather than a student lounge or a place to drop off food in the fridge,” said Mario Avila (MBA’12), the Director of the Turner Family Center for Social Ventures (TFC), who partnered with OSA to launch the café.
The C-Suite currently offers several coffee drinks and teas, in addition to cold drinks, sodas, and water. Baked goods by Nashville’s own Dozen currently include croissants, muffins, and other pastries, with other food options to be rolled out in the coming months.
The Owen Student Government Association (OSGA), along with the broader Owen Community, worked with the TFC and OSA to plan, develop, and brand the space.
“The goal of the C-Suite is to have a space where students can collaborate at Owen in a social atmosphere,” said Cleon Rice (MBA’18), President of the Owen Student Government Association. “I envision impromptu meetings being held at the C-Suite when inspiration strikes.”
This is the first cafe location for OSA, but owners Lesa Wood (a former nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and Jack Egan have 20+ years of experience in the business.
“Being part of the business school is a unique thing,” Wood said, “because we are a business. It’ll be fun to see how it unfolds with the community.”
“We are delighted to have OSA make Owen their flagship retail operation in Nashville,” said M. Eric Johnson, Dean of Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management. “The beloved Nashville coffee roaster will bring its great coffee to Owen and, more importantly, a collaboration with the long-time coffee work of Project Pyramid and the Turner Center for Social Ventures.”
OSA’s partnership with the TFC underscores the center’s deeper connection with the coffee industry. Project Pyramid will be working on a project this spring with a coffee grower in Columbia from which OSA sources beans.
The C-Suite also opens up the chance for students to brainstorm and execute new ways to increase cafe revenues. New product offerings, pricing strategies, and service strategies (mobile ordering, filling stations next to classrooms, etc.) are up for consideration as the café evolves over time. The OSGA, faculty, and other Owen organizations will work with OSA and the TFC to evaluate future opportunities.
“To me, coffee is intimate yet social,” said Chris Salas (MBA’18), an OSGA representative who worked on the C-Suite initiative. “Coffee also inspires me to get out of bed in the morning. This was just something I could not pass up.”
“There’s a lot of interest in coffee at Owen,” Wood added. “I’m hoping that we’re going to do some fun collaborations.”
“As business students, this is what we’re looking for – the ability to test something, and find out what it takes to manage a coffee business, or what levers you can pull to increase business,” Avila said.