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Where all good things come together

What’s the point? At CMU, The Point is a unique, experiential learning experience that takes students out of the classroom and puts them behind the bar.  

In this class, students learn the ins and outs of how to run a business — from acquiring liquor licenses, to balancing the books, to marketing. Whether in a management position or as day-to-day staff, students who work at The Point are provided with essential skills that they can take with them after graduation.

“Experiential learning is important because it builds confidence,” said Georgann Jouflas, business instructor and advisor of The Point. “Not just confidence in running a bar, but confidence that they can take chances, confidence that they can learn from mistakes, confidence that they can be a great employee.”

The idea for The Point came from Jouflas’ classroom when a student who was unhappy with the dining options on campus presented an idea for a food truck. Being an entrepreneurship class, Jouflas encouraged her students to do more research about the market and expand the idea. They started small by selling popcorn once or twice a week for $1. Though the popcorn business did not pan out, Jouflas used the experience as a chance to learn.

Students and a faculty member sit in a classroom having a discussion

Instructor of Business Georgann Jouflas
and her entrepreneurial class that runs The Point.

Jouflas and her students turned to the campus to get information about what students wanted. In the survey, the class found students wanted beer, wine, music and late-night food. Jouflas, who used to own a bar, was hesitant to proceed because of the complications that come with serving alcohol, but after finding the Associated Student Government would support a pub on campus she agreed to go ahead with the project.

In 2013, they opened in their first location which across 12th Street on the east side of campus (in what is now Ekahi Grill).

Student and President Foster standing outside of the original Point location.
John Nitti and President Tim Foster at
the grand opening of The Point in 2013.

The agreement was that The Point would be open across from campus for a year before moving into the University Center, which was being remodeled at the time. The founding students were Johnny Nitti, Creighton Edwards, Brandon Burton and Kim Weber. Throughout the year, The Point became a real student-run entity. Not only did students run the day-to-day business, but they handled the accounting, cooking and food service. They even remodeled the building with the help of a few local businesses.

In 2014, The Point moved to its current location in the University Center. Every semester the small class of 12 students gets a new set of staff that learns how to run a business under the guidance of Jouflas.

“Students can expect to run a business...order food, complete inventory, schedule, look at financial statements to help make management decisions and, most difficult of all, market to other students,” Jouflas said about the structure of the class.

This semester Rick Voss and Collin Hudson have redesigned the menu to add weekly specials like crepes, gyros and cookies. The class has been working with the Programs Activities Council (PAC) to bring local bands, comedians and other late-night entertainment into The Point.

The Point also helps students combat the issue of lack of experience they often encounter after graduation. Many jobs require years of experience on top of a college degree. Students who take The Point class walk away with the experience of running a business.

“The point of The Point is to build student success by building student confidence...confidence in doing, building, collaborating, communicating and innovating,” said Jouflas, “This makes students better employees, innovators and citizens.”

That this ambitious idea started out as a class selling popcorn shows the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Whether students are looking for a beer, a slice of pizza or even a hands-on learning experience, they will find what they are looking for at The Point. As Jouflas says The Point is “where all good things come together.”

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Written by Zoe Shanahan