Off The Avenue Pays Off Startup Loan


Student-run coffee shop Off the Avenue (OTA) celebrated its first anniversary by paying off its 10-month startup loan from the College, a feat worthy of applause by business students and the entire campus community. Since opening on the second floor of Spes Unica in February 2023, OTA has supplied the campus community with daily doses of caffeine. In that time, it also proved profitable. Conceived with future Belles in mind, OTA is staffed by first- and second-year students, while upper-level students serve as board members. The arrangement supports a continuous cycle of education and preparation. Today, OTA employs 12 students, including two co-managers and 10 baristas, and is partially funded by federal work-study.

OTA’s loan was for 10 months with a repayment of $2,400 per month. Now, OTA is producing net proceeds of just under 16% per month after paying the College back. All net proceeds will be divided equally into equity scholarships for business and economics students and an annual donation to a women’s empowerment organization as decided by the OTA board. OTA’s annual net monthly proceeds are projected to be about $4,000 now that the final loan payment has been made.

OTA’s continued success is a nod to the dedication of the students involved and the support they’ve received from the College. Founding board member Jennifer Utterback ’24, feels a sense of relief and excitement about accomplishing this milestone. 

It is very exciting to see how all of our hard work is beginning to pay off, and now we can finally look into many more new ideas for the cafe.

– Jennifer Utterback ’24

After Utterback and her fellow senior board members graduate in May, a new cohort will rise to lead OTA in its next chapter. Utterback hopes to see OTA begin to impact the South Bend community and looks forward to seeing the influential future business leaders of Saint Mary's who will confidently step into the business world after graduation.

OTA continues to innovate, expanding its menu and services to the campus community and introducing new menu items monthly. The cafe has become a gathering place for students, faculty, and staff to grab a coffee and converse. A homegrown business endeavor, OTA has become a gem and a point of pride on campus. “Being involved in OTA has taught me many lessons that will impact me in my future career and life. This cafe has taught me patience, humility, and determination skills that have shaped me. I feel so lucky that I've been able to be a part of something that is such a positive influence on campus,” said Utterback. “OTA exemplifies what it means to be a Belle.”

April 2, 2024

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