Enterprising student starts coffee during Starbucks closure

Boaz+Willis+serves+fellow+sophomore+Micah+Gill+a+cup+of+coffee+from+Bo%27s+Barista+Bar+two+weeks+ago.+The+Bar+was+set+to+reopen+on+Nov.+11.

Goldie Fields

Boaz Willis serves fellow sophomore Micah Gill a cup of coffee from Bo's Barista Bar two weeks ago. The Bar was set to reopen on Nov. 11.

UPDATE: Sophomore Boaz Willis has announced that Bo’s Barista Bar, which he opened during Starbucks’s 10-day shutdown, will re-open Monday even though the actual coffeehouse across the street from school is now open.

From Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, Boaz had set up a table near the lunch area and enthusiastically ran his own mock Starbucks café with his business partner, fellow sophomore Will Bernstein. It was supposed to be temporary, while the real thing on the corner of Fairfax and Olympic was closed for renovation.

But students and teachers quickly got used to the convenience of having coffee right on campus, and missed it when it was gone.

“The prices are reasonable, and the best part is that it’s right outside of the Science room, so I had Will deliver it to me during breakfast,” said science teacher Dr. Melissa Noel.

On Monday Nov. 1, Starbucks reopened, with sleek black countertops and brick walls, and a blown-up photo of the original Starbucks store in Seattle hanging on the wall.

Boaz was at first uncertain of whether he would reopen, but he and Will decided it will ultimately be worth it.

“People weren’t just coming because of our better prices, but because it’s so convenient,” Will said.  “So we figured with Starbucks opened, our business wouldn’t be hurt because people still want it.”

Boaz anticipates that staying open will take a lot of time and effort, but is still willing to do it.

“I think it’s a good experience and something that’s worth my time,” Boaz said. “It might be hard though, because I have to wake up early to brew the coffee, and I’m not a morning person.”

Before opening up Bo’s Barista Bar, Boaz posted a survey on Schoology for students and faculty in hopes of being able to use the data to show Starbucks the increase in Shalhevet customers.  The survey suggested that more kids would go to Starbucks if there was a discount, according to Boaz.

During the bar’s brief close, he polled them again, asking whether to reopen it even though the reason for starting it no longer pertained.

The total expense of the first operation, which lasted 9 days, was $149.  Boaz made $328, leaving him with a profit of $179.

Boaz originally sold drinks for $1.40, compared to Starbucks’ $2.00 and up.  But on the second day, he raised the price to $2.00 because he wanted a flat dollar amount and bought bigger cups.  If students kept their cup, refills were 50 cents. He also added iced chai lattes to his menu, and added chocolate milk on Wednesday.

He donated 10 percent of the total profit to the Girls Learn International club, of which he is a member.  He used the rest of the money to pay for another investment—a candy machine that he will put in the USY office at Temple Beth Am.

Will did not help him with that decision, but generally they work together as business partners.  Right now they’re doing small-scale enterprises such as Bo’s Barista Bar, Will said, and that they basically brainstorm ideas with each other.

“Any ideas we have we share with each other,” Will said.  “I give him pointers on what he should do with it and he’s the face and voice and I’m behind the scenes.”

General Studies Principal Mr. Roy Danovitch only bought one drink from the bar, preferring to stick with his drink from Peet’s Coffee in Larchmont every morning and a Starbucks iced coffee at 3 PM.

But he still was a big advocate.

“This really tested Boaz’s entrepreneurial skills and provided him with a unique fundraising experience,” said aid Mr. Danovitch, who encouraged Boaz to start this business in the first place, according to Boaz.

Although Boaz wasn’t allowed to sell the drinks during lunch because of the contract Shalhevet has with caterer Dudu Zrihen, he does sell during breakfast and Mincha.

Throughout these breaks, students and teachers alike decided to go out to the parking lot and drop by Boaz’s Barista Bar.

Starbucks’ renovation was, at the time, a severe hardship for sophomore Michelle Hirschhorn.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to get through school without looking forward to my after-school Vanilla Bean Frappuccino,” said Michelle.  “I didn’t go because I like the sweet drinks at Starbucks, so I’m glad they’re back.  But I totally support Boaz and Will in their business!”