Photo courtesy of Faves | The newest on-campus restaurant will be located in the Conaton Learning Commons.
After numerous restarts, staff training sessions and general shuffling around, Faves, the student-run restaurant located on the fourth floor of the Conaton Learning Commons, is almost ready to open its doors. The menu’s anchor items include paninis, salads, crepes and smoothies, but current CEO Danny Schwartz added that grab-and-go options that will also be available.
The business is the brainchild of Ronaldo Vieira, an international student, who was inspired to create Fave’s five years ago after noticing that in the United States, especially at universities, there was a lack of healthy alternatives for meals. He then became involved with the Sedler Center for Experiential Learning in the Williams College of Business.
“So, his goal was to bring an affordable and tasty cuisine to the Xavier public, and that’s what Faves’ mission is today,” Schwartz said.
According to Schwartz and COO Sarah Kramer, the development process proved difficult. Obstacles included people dropping out and new people coming in, resulting in several “first meetings” each year assessing the stats from the past year.
In addition, the company has undergone two CEO changes as well as CFO and CMO changes as students graduated or otherwise dropped out.
Kramer and Schwartz also felt that despite the hard work the staff put in throughout last year, the administration did not prove helpful, going so far as to say that it “dropped the ball.” However, as brand coordinator Hannah Bailey noted, none of the team members believe that the administration intended to impede their progress.
“It’s not like we’re directly pointing fingers at the administration, because they didn’t just on purpose not help us,” Bailey said. “There’s a lot of political things that go into it.”
An additional reason for the lengthy process is that all of the executive team members are full-time students, so they have many other responsibilities outside the student business.
Schwartz admitted that running a business as a full-time student demands a lot more time than he had anticipated, as he has to juggle communication with the administration and keeping up his studies in addition to running the business.
When asked about the efforts of maintaining a completely student-run business while being a full-time student, all the members let out a laugh as Schwartz raised this question: “Anyone who balances appropriately, want to step up?”
CMO Michael Bigliano tried to take that step up and explained that based on his experience, breaking down tasks into smaller parts has proved the most useful.
“I think what I found to be the easiest route in terms of getting stuff done is meeting up with strictly marketing and then take that up the ladder to (Schwartz to) meet up with him separately to do what we’re doing now,” Bigliano said. “…I think breaking into smaller groups makes it easier to accomplish what we want to do.”
Schwartz added that the group’s “grit and patience” played a role in being able to get this close to opening. Schwartz, Kramer and CFO Kenny DePrez devoted 35-40 hours a week during the summer calling up potential business partners and meeting with local farmers and local business owners in hopes of opening the restaurant by the start of the fall semester.
“We’re just a really annoying group of people. We’re relentless with emailing people a lot,” Schwartz said. “It takes a lot of phone calls. (Kramer, DePrez and I) this summer called different POS (Point of Sale) systems twice a day. For a while, we called Physical Plant and emailed them.”
Kramer agreed with Schwartz that the group has demonstrated persistence despite the numerous obstacles it has faced.
“Some people come to us and say, ‘why are you part of a failing business?’” Kramer said, “and we just have to hold our head up strong and be like, ‘we’re not going to fail, we’re just working it through.’”
A final aspect of Vieira’s vision that the executive team — Schwartz, Bigliano, Bailey, DePrez, Kramer and junior Jed Raynes — hopes to maintain is that the business will be entirely student-run.
As the only junior on the team, Raynes expressed a desire to continue the business and to ensure its future success.
“I guess my point of view is a little different because you guys are all seniors and I’m a junior,” Raynes said. “After these guys are gone, like (Schwartz) said, I want to see it be 100 percent student-run, and I want to see it succeed even after I graduate.”
The team thanked Jude Kiah from Auxiliary Services, Dawn Tolonen and Jay Page at the Sedler Center for supporting them throughout the process.
Faves currently has 16 trained staff members and hopes to open as soon as possible. Opening day will be announced as soon as the team decides on a date.
By: Hyehyun Hwang ~Staff Writer~