Ninth Block sign

Photo by Stanley Sigalov '13

It’s not often that a class assignment becomes a tangible enterprise, but CC’s new on-campus bar is the direct result of an economics course.

Seniors Lee Carter, Ryan Patterson, and Luke Urban, and juniors Bryce Daniels and Tyler Thorne (not pictured) took Economics and Business Professor Larry Stimpert’s Block 1 class “Entrepreneurship” in which the assignment was to write a business plan.

The result is The Ninth Block, currently located in La’au’s Taco Shop behind the Spencer Center. The on-campus bar, which serves CC students of age, faculty, and staff, is a pilot program, but Patterson said the goal is to find it a permanent, on-campus location. “We want to show everyone that this is a viable, sustainable concept,” Patterson said. “It definitely improves campus life.”

Ninth Block founders“I strongly believe in the importance of students having a place to meet and socialize that doesn’t require an invitation. This gives students who might like to have a drink with a friend or group an option,” said CC President Jill Tiefenthaler.

“We wanted a constructive place where kids could gather. There was a lot of support from the administration and the students,” said Urban. “What we were hoping to do was create an alternative to the house party scene.”

The bar’s founders said that the Block Plan definitely contributed to their commitment to the project, and that it would have been challenging to maintain their momentum under a semester plan.

“The entrepreneurship course represents the best aspects of teaching and learning in Colorado College’s Block Plan,” Stimpert said. “The students immersed themselves in the creative task of developing a complete business plan in three and one-half weeks.  They benefitted from the opportunity to work with nine successful entrepreneurs – most of them Colorado College alumni – who participated in the course. But most of the credit for the launch of The Ninth Block must go to these students.”

Colorado College previously had a campus bar, Benjamin’s Basement (also known as Benny’s) in the Rastall Center, which opened in 1975 and served 3.2 beer, soft drinks, and snacks. It ceased to exist when the building was enlarged, remodeled, and renamed the Worner Campus Center in 1987.

The Ninth Block serves nachos, chips and salsa, six different beers, and has a “limited but adequate” bar; it does not, however, serve shots. The students said that was a deliberate decision, designed to help promote responsible drinking and to distance the bar from the house party atmosphere. “It should be a place where a professor and student would be comfortable going after dinner at the professor’s house to talk about the issues of the day,” Carter said.

Patterson said the endeavor has been the defining project of his senior year; a “capstone experience.”

“It definitely was one of the top five educational experiences of my life,” Daniels said.

A longer version of this story is available in Around the Block.