Local officials on Thursday held a grand opening ceremony for a coffee shop housed at the Donoho School and staffed by students.

“What a great idea. It's an educational opportunity for all of you,” said Anniston Mayor Vaughn Stewart at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The idea for the business, called Donoho Joe, grew from an essay senior Nina Bidikov wrote last year for English instructor and Upper School director Russ Connell’s class.

He and his students researched the feasibility of the business over the summer. After students presented a proposal to Bunn Beverage,  the company agreed to sponsor the venture. The owners of Oxford-based Southern Girl Roasters agreed to be the sole supplier of the shop and to create Donoho Joe blend, which can only be bought at the school.

“When you reach out to people, you will be surprised what happens,” Connell said of the response from the community.

He pointed to the coffee shop’s tables, all of which had the Donoho Joe emblem carved into them.

Connell said parent Brian Simmons did the wood carvings.

And 2011 alumna Elizabeth Smith designed the logo, Connell said.

Members of the school’s student government association will work at the coffee shop, which is in the school’s cafetorium.

The shop will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:55 a.m. as well as the students’ break period each school day.

Most of Donoho Joe’s profits will go back into the business. The remainder will go to the school —  to particular needs that will be selected on annual basis, according to Paige Faulkner, director of marketing for the school.  

Asked how she felt about seeing her idea come to life, Bidikov said, “I just think it's the coolest thing ever.”

She stressed that the project would not have been possible without Connell’s hard work.

Donoho’s faculty plan for students to learn and experience more than just entrepreneurship through the coffee shop.

Connell said the Donoho Joe will also serve as an art gallery showcasing the work of students’ from instructor Sarah Landrum class.  

During Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Donoho Joe even had the coffee shop staple of two guitarists performing an acoustic set.

Connell said that as part of the research of the business, he talked with a local pediatrician who said there is no evidence to support the idea that coffee has a negative effect on teenagers.

Stewart told the students during Thursday’s event “once you perfect this business model you have to bring it to downtown Anniston.”

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_Star.

I'm the assistant metro editor for The Anniston Star. I edit, post online stories and write the occasional story. I also run the Business as Usual column.