Students make a business of snacking late

Megan Angelo

For their first major venture, the students in the business school’s new entrepreneur minor have stuck to the most fundamental rule of client attraction: If you want people to show up, get food.

The nine seniors that have enrolled in the program chose to organize an on-campus, late night food service as their semester-long project. After months of studying and planning, the group will finally see their plans get off the ground when they open the Corner Grille next weekend for the debut of Late Nite, Quick Bite.

“We hope the school may come to realize that this is a good opportunity, and that there is money to be made late at night,” says Peter Earle, who is serving as marketing chair for the venture. “We’re encouraging students to come out to show the school that this is something that they want.”

From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday nights, the group will offer Tex-Mex food as well as other snacks such as chicken fingers and fries. Featured items like burritos and nachos were an obvious choice, according to Earle, because the Villanova area does not have a Mexican restaurant that delivers. “We’re going to try to make it a nice atmosphere, so that people can kind of hang out,” he adds.

All proceeds from the weekend of Late Night, Quick Bite will be donated to the St. Francis Inn, a family shelter in Philadelphia the students chose to help. Besides supporting the shelter and persuading school administration that a late night food service is a lucrative prospect, Late Nite, Quick Bite will also publicize the new minor.

Both Earle and two of his classmates, Chad Waring, chief financial officer of the project, and Bill Clark, secretary of the project, classify the minor as an extremely worthy experience. All three say the minor provides an exercise in actual business practices rather than just dictating theory.

“We’re dealing with real money, real bankers, real product and real customers,” Waring explains.

“It’s basically teaching us the whole process,” says Earle. The class began with the students debating several ideas for the venture, including a Quad hot dog cart, but they eventually settled on the late night food service. Once the concept was agreed upon, the students got to work making arrangements with Dining Services, finding outside food vendors and requesting a loan from a local bank.

The road to Late Nite, Quick Bite has not been without its bumps, according to Waring. “Things come up, challenges come up, and we have to work around it,” he says.

Originally, the students hoped to have several different weekends of late night food, but availability conflicts with the dining halls prevented this. Four faculty members with different types of business expertise have guided the nine seniors through the semester. Each of the students in the minor serves a different position, according to their natural business skills. “We all have specific positions, but we all pretty much do everything together,” Clark says.

The minor is not for those without the desire to truly work hard on the project, the seniors emphasize. “We want to make this succeed,” Waring insists.