Inside the Uncommon Grounds

Inside the “Uncommon Grounds”

Quentin Brillantes is a senior Finance major and Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise minor from San Diego, California.

At the start of the 2016-2017 school year, he took over as the General Manager of Campus Grounds (CG), the student-operated coffee shop located in Taylor.

How long have you been working for Campus Grounds?

I first started working at Campus Grounds as a barista during the fall semester of my junior year. Then after six or seven months, I applied for the General Manager position. I formally received the position in April of last year and will have it until April of this semester. But there’s always a transition period from April to May where the last General Manager teaches the new General Manager.

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When did you first get interested in working for Campus Grounds?

It was totally luck. The last General Manager here was Byron McClendon, who was my RA one semester. During the spring semester of my sophomore year, I went abroad. However, when I came back I wanted to get more involved on campus. So I emailed him over the summer saying ‘yo can I work at the coffee shop, I know you work there.’ He helped hook me up with a position and I just fell in love with it after that.

How many hours do you spend working there a week?

I’m a terrible person to answer this question. The first couple months of school, I was working 30+ hours a week for training, bringing in new products and furniture and a couple other projects that I wanted to implement from the start of the year.

Not working wise, I spend a lot of time here hanging out with other people on the team — while they’re on the clock and I am not. Or just studying and hanging out with friends. I also don’t want to lose my barista skills from last year, so I like to work behind the counter and practice making latte art —hearts, leaves, etc.

How many hours a week do the Baristas typically work?

Baristas work at least six hours a week and can be scheduled for more depending on their preference or school load.

What do you have to do to be a barista here?

Originally, students were placed to work here randomly through work study assignments. I’ve been trying to change that to get people working here that want to work here.

CG has become a lot busier this year and a lot more students know about us than before, so we have seen a lot more interest from students about working here.

The only caveat to working here is that you need to qualify for work study in your financial aid package.

You obviously spend a lot of time here with your staff. What are your favorite parts about Campus Grounds and what makes it feel like home to you?

I would say there are three unique characteristics that I personally find are really centrally important to CG.

The first is having a really close-knit group of employees. At the beginning of the fall semester, we had to train and hire a bunch of new people. One of my favorite things to do is hang out behind the counter with employees and checking in with everyone. So the way we try to foster the close community is by having the students work really closely together in order to facilitate them getting to know each other. The employees themselves are a very unique, diverse group of people, so having them train and work alongside each other is a good way to gain experience and get to know each other. Everyone loves to work here and enjoys what they do, so it makes my job a lot easier and way more fun to have everyone care about this place.

The second is just creating a unique atmosphere on campus for the students. Having an open environment where people can feel comfortable here, have fun being here and feel welcome here is really important to us. And all of that is just a testament to the atmosphere that the employees try to create. There isn’t another space like CG on campus and keeping our space unique and fun for everyone is very important to us.

Then lastly, just making sure that we have good drinks and products here. This year, we have improved on standardizing our drinks. We’ve added products from Village Juice, Camino Bakery, and UpDog Kombucha. Making sure we are serving great products is an obvious necessity for any business.

What are some other projects you are working on during your time as General Manager?

We have changed a lot at Campus Grounds this semester. From adding UpDog Kombucha, Camino and Village Juice, to getting new outdoor furniture, improving our social media and redesigning our cups… both me and all of the team have done a lot of hard work. This semester, I want to let everything play out and let it ride.

As far as other things going on this semester, I have a couple of smaller things. Were looking into offering Chad’s Chai & Tea. This would finally make all of our offerings “local.” I am also going to be working hard to make sure that there is a smooth transition from this year to our next academic year. I want to ensure that CG is able to maintain or build on everything that we have accomplished this year and remain a valuable business and space on campus.

Continuing to reach new people on campus is also important, especially getting freshman to the upper quad and know that we are here.

What other organizations are you apart of?

I’m a part of the club volleyball team. Outside of that I am still working part-time for a start-up that I interned with last summer. It’s called TapInfluence that’s based out of Denver, Colorado. You may also catch me biking around campus and Winston-Salem.

What’s your favorite drink?

Hatch’s Hazelnut. Easily.

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