Hotel restaurant, student-run coffee shop open

August 15, 2016 / by / 0 Comment

Two of GCBC's shop managers, Lauren Lentini, left, and Julisa Smith, stand by the doughnut case at the brand new coffee shop.

Two of GCBC’s shop managers, Lauren Lentini (left) and Julisa Smith, stand by the donut case at the brand new coffee shop.

Story and photos by Laurie Merrill and Jeannette Cruz
GCU News Bureau

Two grand new businesses opened their doors for business Monday morning at Grand Canyon University — the new student-run and managed Grand Canyon Beverage Company (GCBC) and the Canyon 49 Grill.

GCBC sells coffee, tea, donuts and other tasty treats on the second floor of the Student Union on the main campus, while the Canyon 49 Grill, which is open to the public, serves diners in its location in front of the Grand Canyon University Hotel at 27th Avenue and Camelback Road.


Kevin Walton, executive chef of the Canyon 49 Grill.

The Grill was a compelling scene Monday morning as hotel manager Brett Cortright, executive chef Kevin Walton and the restaurant staff added their finishing touches before the it opened.

“I’m very adamant about fresh, clean and vibrant colors,” Cortright said.

The new restaurant features a wide choice of teas and coffee, a grab-‘n’-go fridge, a full bar, lounge area, custom purple couches, art from the College of Fine Arts and Production and an open kitchen — which Walton praises most.

“If I see people enjoying their food and I see the first smile, that’s it,” he said.

Cortright poured his excitement over the new restaurant and could not help but boast about the Milkshake of the Day — Dr. Pepper Chai.

“It’s not always going to be that crazy, but it’ll be fun,” he said.

Students Zach Broussely, left, and Erica Limstrom give GCBC a thumbs-up.

Students Zach Broussely, left, and Erica Limstrom give GCBC a thumbs-up.

For GCBC, the Monday opening was a “soft launch,” with most menu offerings available to students, faculty and staff. The official opening — complete with the full gamut of beverages and treats and the finished renovation of the spacious venue — will be later this month.

“I’m excited and I want to let everyone know that we want to break a record,” said Julisa Smith, one of four recent GCU alumni who are managing the venue. “Let’s make this the largest coffee shop in Arizona.”

Smith, Parker Shipe and Lauren Lentini are the shop managers, and Brennan Williams is the general manager. They have hired a host of student workers to run the new business. A second GCBC will open in the Roadrunner Apartments, just east of the intramural field, and future off-campus franchises are possible.

Monday’s menu included Stampede Drip Coffee, a case filled with colorful treats from Fractured Prune Doughnuts, teas in flavors such as Berry Hibiscus and Summer Peach, cold-brew coffee and a potpourri of other beverages.

Junior Erica Limstrom and sophomore Zach Broussely sat in new, cattle-hide patterned chairs in the eatery, sipping icy beverages as they chatted.


Restaurant employees prep food for the big first day.

“I got a caramel latte with an extra shot of espresso,” Limstrom said. “It’s great! The flavor is good and it’s not overly sweet.”

Broussely opted for an iced macchiato. “I’ve had other macchiatos, and this one is right up there,” he said. Plus, he noted, you can’t beat the convenience.

GCBC, one of three new student-operated businesses the University is launching, will be followed by a T-shirt and merchandise company this fall and a clothing and supply exchange next year.

A purple banner proclaims the opening of the “run by students, for business” beverage spot.

“Come support your fellow graduates,” Shipe said.

Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or

Contact Jeannette Cruz at (602) 639-6631 or

About the Author
Leave a Comment