Munch at MidnightGAMBIER, Ohio (April 21, 2011)
Kenyon students hope to satisfy the appetite for late-night dining on campus by launching food-service businesses next school year.
The 2011 Innovation Greenhouse business plan competition, supported by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, recently delivered a total of $10,000 in start-up grant money to three teams among seven that competed by presenting business models before a panel of judges.
Two of the winners will now compete for a piece of the late-night food pie.
Reilly Brock '12 of Berkeley, California, and Jordan Rhyne '13 of New Albany, Ohio, won the $5,000 top award, and they will unveil the Last Call Food Cart later this year. The business is a moveable feast that will follow the party crowds on weekend nights with a menu of tacos, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, and pancakes. "We want to be part of the social geography of campus," Brock said. "We want to be so popular that there is a line. We want great food that's quick and easy to prepare. It's fresh. It's hot. It's tasty. It's an untapped market on campus."
The marketplace has another player thanks to an eight-person team from the College Entrepreneurship Club that won a $3,000 award for Nite Bites, a late-night café and delivery service. Autumn Anderson '14 of Erie, Pennsylvania, said Nite Bites hopes to operate most nights from midnight to 4:00 a.m. out of a local kitchen and emphasize food delivery ranging from fruit smoothies to pizza to salad.
A care-package business, P.S .Don't Stress, will start with a $2,000 grant awarded to students Alexandra Patterson '12 of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Robyn Stype '12 of Columbus, Ohio.
Innovation Greenhouse director Ted Rice said interest is always high in food-service ideas, with the topic "certainly near and dear to student hearts." The late-night ventures can take advantage of high demand and distinctive offerings. "They can both do quite well," Rice said.
Rhyne won a $5,000 award last year to help fund Rhyne Electric Powersports , founded to design, manufacture, and market an electric motorcycle. He sold most of that business to a partner, and went to work on the food cart concept with Brock, who has a passion for food and cooking. They expect to test the cart this summer during conferences and first-year orientation.
"We have the great fortune to be at Kenyon College with so many people encouraging us and great friends and professors cheering us on," Brock said. "This is a campus with a lot of intelligent people ... with good ideas. What it takes to run a business is to stop and think about the logistics and anticipate the snags ahead of time. We put a lot of time into it. Jordan and I are really excited."
Competition judges included Ann Pickens '85, senior vice president, Bright Horizons Family Solutions; retired trademark-law attorney Thomas Hoffman '62; and Michael Hawk, founder of ECR Internet Services and RevLocal.com, an online marketing service.
Innovation Greenhouse was created in 2008 with financial support from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, which is based in Hudson, Ohio, and fosters the entrepreneurial spirit.