MSU Student-Owned Chateau Coffee Co. Holds Grand Opening Event

At Château Coffee Co., owner Tarek Chawich is involved in the customer experience from start to finish. He gives personal suggestions, prepares every drink and delivers orders to every table.

Chawich hosted the grand opening event for her boutique, located at 1701 S. Waverly Road, on February 1. The event happened 10 days after the store officially opened to the public.

Chawich, 24, was born in Lebanon. He moved to East Lansing when he was young. With an aesthetic and menu inspired by his Lebanese roots, his shop brings an experience to the cafe scene in the Lansing area.

“I never ask how we can be better than the competition,” Chawich said. “I ask how we can be different.”

The desire to be different is displayed in its menu. He offers unique items like baklava and Arabic coffee — treats he grew up enjoying every morning.

Chawich is not only an entrepreneur with a passion for good coffee, he is also a student. When he’s not making new lattes, he’s working on a master’s degree in marketing research at Michigan State University. Although it can be difficult to balance entrepreneurship and academics, Chawich said he likes to keep busy.

“Because I started a business so early in life,” Chawich said, “a lot of people are surprised that I’m the owner. When they ask for the owner and it’s me, they think I’m a working barista.

The Chawich-based company also pays homage to its academic roots by collaborating with MSU students, particularly the Interior Design Student Organization.

“We plan to work with student organizations and different colleges,” Chawich said. “For example, we asked an interior design student to design the place.”

The window sills are lined with leafy plants. A chair is draped in an MSU blanket. Curated by interior design freshman Adreienne Wright, the aesthetic choices are symbolic of how Chawich’s various identities combine to create such a unique space.

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor attended the Grand Opening Ceremony. He said it’s great for Lansing to have small business owners who are willing to invest in the community and provide desired service.

“People are excited to be able to come in for food, drinks, meetings, and to sit down and study,” Schor said. “It really is a need, and we have a young entrepreneur filling that need. So it’s exciting.

Schor said he cherishes Lansing’s diversity, and Chateau Coffee Co. is a prime example.

Taylor Thrush is an employee of Chateau Coffee Co. She said having a young boss has been a great experience because Chawich helps each employee tap into their own personal skills.

“We all sort of know what the goal is and we’re all working together towards that common goal,” Thrush said. “It’s really easy when your boss has the same mentality.”

Every employee is committed to creating a café with a welcoming and warm atmosphere that people want to come back to.

“A different, innovative and quality customer experience,” said Chawich. “Those are the three goals.”

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