Inside Sonoma’s student-staffed No Name Cafe

Sonoma Valley High School’s very own micro-business, the No Name Cafe, sells healthy snacks and meals to students and staff at break, lunch, after-school and during summer school.

Overseen by Teen Services Sonoma, the cafe has for over a decade provided many Sonoma Valley High School students with their first job.

“We love hiring teens, because they bring a lot of new energy to their jobs,” said Francesca Fifis, program and volunteer director at Teen Services. “We love to give them opportunities to exercise their creativity.”

The student workers can suggest new products, decorate the café and learn how to take inventory.

Fifis explained that every teen who works at the café must take Teen Services’ Ready to Work class and have a work permit.

“Student employees work at the cafe handling money, serving, and preparing food, so the micro business teaches students to be responsible, but it is also flexible with their school commitments,” she said. “We give students the opportunity to enter the workforce earlier.”

Alexander McIntyre, SVHS senior and former employee of No Name, liked that the job was flexible.

“The benefits of working at No Name was learning to work a cash register, good work ethics and learning to work with other people,” he said. “Sometimes, I would have to stay after class to finish a test or work on projects. As long as we gave a heads up, my boss was understanding and made it clear to all her employees that school came first. This flexibility isn’t how most jobs work.”

“I liked that our boss was only there as the supervisor,” he added. “The students did the stocking, cleaning and money. This independence allowed for student employees to grow – figuring out what to do when they’ve finished completing a task or finished helping a customer, and learning to do the right thing without supervision.”

Jessica Hutchinson, vice principal, thinks that the No Name Café serves an important function on campus.

“It’s a place that people gravitate to and it’s important that everyone has a place that people feel connected to on campus,” she said.

Students spend their lunches eating around or in the cafe space, and there is usually music playing, so it creates a fun and laid back environment.

“I like (the cafe) because it has good food for a great price, and it’s available for us at lunch,” said SVHS senior Maya Bigirimana.

During the school year, Teens Services plans to introduce healthier choices, including adding salads, yogurt parfaits, veggies with dips, homemade pizza bites and more.

The cafe reopened for the fall semester on Monday, Sept. 10, at breaks and during lunch.

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