Leadership Profile

What's Happening at Cedar Crest College

Business Students Help Restaurateurs with Expansion Plans

Students from Cedar Crest College and other local colleges have consumed thousands of California-style tacos and burritos in the four-year existence of Cali Burrito, a vital component to the restaurant’s success. Now, students from Cedar Crest are helping the restaurant’s ownership with plans for expansion.

A student questions Cali Burrito co-owner Shawn McHugh.
A student questions Cali Burrito co-owner Shawn McHugh.

Students in Gaetan Giannini’s Principles of Management (BUA 110) class met co-owners Shawn McHugh and Nick Sorrentino, toured the Cali Burrito facility, and sampled foods from the menu recently as part of a classroom project to write business plans for a second Cali Burrito restaurant. McHugh said he has been very deliberate in trying to find just the right area location for expansion, and he looks forward to working with students to determine which area locations make good business sense.

“I should have already been doing it (actively looking to expand). I’ve been approached a lot but nothing fit what I’m looking for. I want to make sure we don’t hurt the one we have that is already doing well,” said McHugh, who fashioned the idea for Cali Burrito while surfing in Monterrey, Calif., with Sorrentino. “I’m hoping these students will give us some good ideas on possibilities for expansion, and that one or more of them will continue to help us grow the business moving forward.”
Giannini, associate professor of business and chair of the department of business, economics and management at Cedar Crest College, said students in this class have helped local businesses in the past, and also created business plans that they, themselves, have turned into successful businesses. One student, for example, has opened two daycare centers in the Allentown area, and another has created an online jewelry business by combining her entrepreneurial spirit with her artistic ability.

Taylor Murphy with quesadilla. Students were impressed with the way Cali Burrito provides fresh meals in short order, as well as the owners’ commitment to customer service. They are already forming ideas for the location of the second restaurant.

“The steak quesadilla was the best I ever had,” said junior accounting major Taylor Murphy, who said she’d one day like to start a non-profit to support cancer research. “I thought it was really cool being here—normally you wouldn’t be able to get inside a business like this. I think another area with a lot of colleges would be good. There are a lot of colleges around here (in Allentown) and they get a good amount of business from students.”

“They have found the right niche and it’s something they knew about already—surfers spend a lot of time eating at fast-food places,” said junior nuclear medicine major MaryAnn Custard, adding that her recommendation for a location is a medical center with a lot of young employees who would appreciate quality food at a reasonable price.

The partnership appears to be a great fit. In addition to the fact that McHugh estimates that 10-20 percent of his business comes from local college students, partner Sorrentino has a Cedar Crest College connection: his mother, Carol, is a part-time faculty member.