Students, local companies collaborate on expansion plans

From Mia’s Pizzas to the Bolger Center, students at the Universities at Shady Grove get a first-hand look at area businesses and restaurants.

The school, a consortium of nine Maryland universities, is comprised solely of transfer students. Undergraduates typically arrive at the Rockville campus after completing two-year programs at community colleges. The university offers majors such as investigative forensics and construction management, with many courses scheduled for evenings and weekends to accommodate working students.

Graduating seniors in the hotel and restaurant management program spend a semester working with area companies to create business plans, conduct market research and come up with new ideas. Here are a few recent collaborations with local businesses.

Peterson Cos.

Students worked with the Fairfax-based developer to conduct target market analyses for properties in Silver Spring and Gaithersburg. Suggestions included sports-themed restaurants and a Caribbean restaurant in Silver Spring, as well as an upscale cocktail lounge in Gaithersburg.

Bold Bites, Bethesda

The hot dog and fries eatery, which recently opened a second location in Union Station, wanted help with its expansion. Students researched target demographics and analyzed available vacancies, ultimately recommending Baltimore and the Foggy Bottom neighborhood as possible sites. They also helped come up with a social media plan for the company.

Universities at Shady Grove coffee shop

“It’s always a good idea to work where you study,” said Susan Callahan, a chef-instructor at the university. To that end, Callahan’s students played a role in helping decide where the campus coffee shop should be placed. An upcoming bistro on campus has also been conceptualized and seen through by Callanhan’s students.

— Abha Bhattarai