The Daily Grind

Abby Shepherd, Staff Writer

A new school year, a new coffee shop. Now referred to as the Eagle Express, DECA’s coffee shop has undergone a transformation.

Most Olathe North students walk by the Eagle Express every day, and many students have bought a cup of coffee or a smoothie from there, on occasion. However, the hard work and hours that those involved in DECA put it to successfully run the coffee shop often go unnoticed.

Over the summer, DECA members worked hard to formulate new drinks, such as the popular raspberry Italian soda. DECA works with The Roasterie, a coffee roasting company which is operated in nearby Kansas City, Missouri. Sophomore Arjun Garapaty, one of the student leaders of the Eagle Express, explained how new menu items, such as frappes, are developed. “We contact The Roasterie, get the ingredients we need, and then use those to develop our items.” Garapaty praises The Roasterie’s partnership with Olathe North DECA, adding, “The Roasterie has done well to provide us with different possibilities of drinks to make with the resources we have.”

Along with the creation of new drinks, the coffee stand itself has undergone a renovation. DECA members volunteered to come in during the summer to help with the remodel, which took around one week, according to senior Anchal Gupta. “We renovated the entire coffee shop. We painted the walls, and got new furniture, so now it looks really nice,” Gupta describes.

Raschel Brock, the co-sponsor of DECA, adds, “We got running water and a sink, something we’ve never had in the shop before.”

Soon, the Eagle Express will expand its locations, according to senior Sonia Kandalkar, one of the students who helps run the coffee shop.“We will also be starting a coffee cart in the intersection of the 800 hallway and in the parking lot,” Kandalkar reveals.

The Eagle Express not only sells coffee, but Olathe North spirit wear as well. DECA has a design department, which is responsible for coming up with new spirit wear. Kandalkar believes that the spirit wear unites the Olathe North community, as she claims, “You don’t always want a shirt affiliated with a club.”

“The merchandise we’re selling right now is on clearance, so we’re selling that first, and then we’ll have some really cool designs coming out soon,” Garapaty discloses.

DECA makes quite a large profit selling coffee, shirts, and assorted merchandise, so where does that money go?According to Garapaty, this profit goes towards admission fees for DECA competitions, as well as reinvesting in the coffee shop, which includes getting new machines and inventing new drinks.In addition to the stresses of school work, DECA members have to manage an entire business on the side.

With the help of Olathe North teachers, Stacie Palmisano and Raschel Brock, students order products, apply for grants, and learn about what it takes to operate a school-based enterprise, Kandalkar explains.

Since the Eagle Express is open daily, there is a demand for students to work every day.

Kandalkar adds, “DECA members pick what day they want to work, and then come that day every week.”

Students involved in DECA learn important life-skills while helping out at the Eagle Express, such as how to work together as a team. The coffee shop periodically becomes busier, and everyone working must communicate with each other to succeed.

Garapaty has learned a lot by working in the Eagle Express, especially content relating to leadership and managing people. He believes that being involved in the coffee shop has prepared him for not only a career in business, but for any field that involves leadership and communication.

Kandalkar has also learned many valuable lessons from working in the coffee shop since her freshman year. “As a freshman, I saw so much potential in this store and it was genuinely so fun to be a barista once a week.” She continued, “Working in this store has taught me skills I will use for the rest of my life, mainly with problem solving, how to overcome limitations, how to reach a target market, advocating for a cause, how to market and advertise effectively, teamwork, leadership, being creative, and handling money wisely.”

Gupta appreciates the atmosphere that working together as a team creates.“It’s a really special experience because everyone’s working together, we have one person yelling out orders, people are asking ‘can you pass me this?’, so it’s just a nice feeling to be a part of something.”

In response to what is the most important thing Olathe North students should know about the Eagle Express and the students that run it, Gupta reveals, “I think they should know we all work extremely hard, we show up early every morning, we’ve gone through training multiple times, we all really care about it, and we would all appreciate it if students stopped by.”

Next time you’re craving a coffee or smoothie, stop by the Eagle Express, not only to check out their new renovations, but to show your appreciation for the hard-working students involved in DECA.

The Eagle Express is open in the South Commons every morning, from 7:20-7:55.