At Temple University’s Ritter Hall Annex, the elevator bay is abuzz with students and staff members talking about the building’s newest addition: Rad Dish Co-Op Café. The vegetarian, cash-only eatery has become a hotspot for foodies looking for locally sourced meals.
Keeping an eye on a midday lunch rush, Lauren Troop, Rad Dish co-founder and its head of outreach, said her involvement in the café inspired her transfer into the Fox School of Business.
“Through this project, I was able to see that you can use business to solve problems like these and be a leader in your community,” said Troop, a junior entrepreneurship major.
Troop and fellow Fox School student Trevor Southworth are among the Temple students who are behind the primary operations and day-to-day management of Rad Dish Co-Op Café.
Troop said she’s always been fascinated by eating habits and the sustainability of the slow-food movement, which promotes the use of a local ecosystem to support traditional meals. It wasn’t until Troop opened Rad Dish in January and started her courses at the Fox School in Fall 2014 that she saw how to turn her interests into a business.
“I took a class that explored innovation through different business plans and Rad Dish’s business plan, being a co-op, is so unique,” Troop said.
Utilizing skills gleaned from her Marketing and Human Resource courses, Troop said she began to problem-solve issues of promotion and business management while working to maintain the idea of opening a locally sourced restaurant at Temple.
Rad Dish Café, as a co-op, embraces a purely democratic leadership that allows all students equal voting rights, and invites students and community members to buy into the co-op for $25, which affords them a 10-percent discount on purchases and voting privileges in the co-op.
Among the committee leaders is Trevor Southworth, who not only supports Rad Dish’s cause, but also views the venture as an ideal application for the skills he’s learning in the Fox School.
“I’m in Cost Analysis right now and that’s everything I do for Rad Dish,” said Southworth, a sophomore accounting major at the Fox School.
Rad Dish is primarily funded by seed money provided by Temple University’s Office of Sustainability. Southworth, who heads Rad Dish’s finance committee, focuses on creating a financial plan that allows the restaurant to meet and exceed overhead costs and saving to pay back the seed funding within five years. Southworth and Troop also worked to launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that raised $2,000. The idea came from alumna Rachel Voluck, FOX ’14, the former president of Fox School student professional organization Net Impact, a responsible business coalition.
Prior to its February soft opening, Rad Dish worked with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute’s (IEI) Living Learning Community to plan the grand opening and formulate outreach programs. Troop also said she plans to work with Sustainable Marketing business students to pitch the co-op model, and hopes to resume a series of independent studies available through the Fox School to get students involved.
“This semester we hope to create those relationships and plan out more organized internships,” Troop said. “A big thing for us is collaboration between colleges.”
Troop and Southworth have also reached out to Dylan Baird, FOX ’13. The alumnus, who took second place at the IEI’s 2010 Be Your Own Boss Bowl, a university-wide business plan competition, launched Philly Foodworks, an aggregator for local farms to sell their crops locally. Rad Dish uses Baird’s community-sourced agriculture delivery service as a drop-off/pick-up zone for the café’s food stores. And the café’s breads and pastries are courtesy of Lauren Yaghoobian, FOX ’01, who launched Northeast Philadelphia-based Wildflour Bakery with her husband, Nishan, shortly after graduating.
“We would use Temple alumni over anyone else because they get so excited about it,” Southworth said. “It’s natural networking and I’ve learned a lot.”
Both Troop and Southworth look forward to continuing their business educations and applying their skills to Rad Dish’s everyday operation.
“I want to learn these news skills and have this business succeed,” Troop said. “I’m excited to continue collaboration between a variety of Temple schools and colleges.”