More coffee for the students
MRU student set to expand coffee business
By Yassin Mansour, Contributor
Ryan Wenger achieved his dream of running his own business when he opened the first location for Barrow Espresso, but he is about to branch out to more locations.
Wenger opened the first location of his coffee shop, Barrow Espresso in the Bissett School of Business in Mount Royal University on Sept. 8, 2016.
“It’s always been a lifelong dream of mine to run my own business, and it took a while to get to where I am today, but I can’t believe we’re actually opening and operating and I’m doing it,” said Wenger.
Wenger wanted to start a coffee shop because of his love for coffee and the coffee industry.
“I love the conversations that happen around coffee, I love what happens when you put a coffee shop in a place, how it builds the community and it brings people together,” said Wenger.
He has worked in various cafes from Alberta to Sydney, Australia.
“[Sydney] is where I really learned to make great espresso fast and efficiently,” he said.
It was in Sydney where he got the idea of making a micro-cafe.
“[They] are these tiny little coffee shops that just produce the best quality coffee you could ever imagine, just these little grab-and-go places. It’s something that I really wanted to bring back,” said Wenger.
To help him on this venture, Wenger had a collection of old coffee equipment that he had rebuilt it in his basement.
He chose the MRU location to be the first one because he found a cart in the school that he saw would be a good fit for his idea of a micro-shop, but was not able to buy it.
“They said ‘no you can’t buy it, but we’re thinking of doing a pilot project in the EB building to see if a café is viable in the space’ and the rest is history.”
Wenger is currently a student at MRU, where he is studying Business Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship.
“It’s great because I’m also able to use a lot of my education in a practical, applied basis right here on campus which I think is really rare and something that I really value,” he said. “It’s really rounding out my entire education.”
At the beginning of November 2017, Barrow Espresso is set to open a second location in the new Riddell Library and Learning Centre, and Wenger could not be more excited.
“It is the most exciting thing that has ever happened. It is the best opportunity ever. I was really surprised when I submitted the proposal that we have been selected to run the café over there,” said Wenger.
— MRU Library (@MRULibrary) October 30, 2017
He also understands the responsibility that comes with the new location.
“There will be growing pains to go through, and it [will] probably not be the smoothest thing ever, but to have the opportunity, we’re really looking [forward] to it. It really means growth for the business and another place where I can really exercise my education.”
The new location is set to be bigger and better with more selection on the menu and longer hours.
Wenger is also looking to open a third location, not on campus, but close by in Marda Loop.
As for the future of the current location in Bissett, Wenger is unsure of whether it is staying.
“It is scheduled right now as a move, but we are working to maintain this location in [Bissett].”