Vasilios Baggeas ’14 grew up in a family restaurant. So it was only natural for the hospitality and tourism management major to get involved in the student-run Hazell Nut Café on campus. “I remember seeing my father in his chef’s whites, watching his demeanor with the customers and their back and forth, and I wanted that,” he said. “I’m a people person, and this is a people business.”
As a senior he is the general manager of the café, and he oversees a team that is responsible for budgeting, banking, ordering, planning and training staff, as well as food preparation, service, sanitation and marketing – the entire sweep of a café operation. The experience is everything he could have hoped for.
“We are learning how to manage everything having to do with the service business,” he said. “You get the opportunity to try running your own business without the risk of owning your own business. It is one of the best opportunities I could ever have.”
The café has taught him so much about managing, team building, supervising staff, remaining positive and offering a delicious product and a smile, no matter how busy a lunch rush gets, as it did on a recent Friday afternoon. “Dr. Mills told us the way to keep a calm head in any kind of service-related business, whenever it gets very hectic, is to step in the back,” he said. “Take a deep breath and come back out and face the world. It works.”