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Campus Celebrity: Small Business Owner, Don Greengrass

It’s hard enough juggling school as it is, but imagine having a second major, three clubs to keep up with and…your own business to run. This workload may seem impossible, but Don Greengrass, a fifth year student at UW-La Crosse, proves otherwise. Don opened his very own café called Greengrass Café just this past August, located right next to campus. The Café focuses mainly on breakfast, which they serve all day, as well as lunch and dinner after 11 a.m. What Don said many people don’t know is they also have a liquor license and full bar—pancakes and a mimosa anyone?! It’s no doubt Don has a full plate and with such success already as a student, our Her Campus team is proud to present him as this week’s Campus Celebrity!


Hometown: La Crosse, WI

Year in school: Fifth year

Age: 23

Graduation date: Spring 2016

Majors: Business Management, Marketing

Minor: Coaching concentration certificate

What is your favorite part about UW-L and the La Crosse community?  It is hard to pin point any one thing. I have been around here my whole life. One of my favorite things is how active I am able to be whether it is hiking the trails, snowboarding or playing pickup soccer. There are people who are willing to play.

What other activities do you partake in?  I take part in a few clubs on campus: NASA, CAB, and CEO club. In addition, I am very big into sports. I play soccer, football, and basketball–pretty much anything. I am training for track that I hope to make sometime.

What inspired you to start Greengrass café?  I have always been a bit of an entrepreneur.  When [Assistant Professor] Vivek Pande and I started working together, we both fed off of one another’s motivation and enthusiasm.

How did you come about starting a business? What classes or experiences helped you in this endeavor? The beginning started with an idea, and I shared that idea with Vivek. Some of the upper level management classes have helped to in understanding each step, pointing me in the right direction and working with others. A lot of my experiences have shaped who I have become, and I think that, collectively, has helped me through this endeavor.

Who has been your biggest support throughout this whole experience? My biggest support throughout this experience has been my friend and business partner Vivek Pande.  We have been working together for a long time now.  We have overcome many obstacles together and continue to support one another if needed.

Who is your role model? My dad. He has worked very hard to get to where he is. He was always very sociable and outgoing when I was growing up, which has rubbed off on me quite a bit.  My dad has always been supportive, looked out for me and fueled my imagination. I have looked up to him my whole life, and he remains my biggest role model.

What has this opportunity taught you so far career-wise or otherwise?  There is a lot that this has taught me; I don’t know where to begin. I have learned so much about everything. Opening the restaurant has been a learning experience from the start. Each step has taught me something new.  It has really brought my multi-tasking skills to a whole new level, as well. Career-wise I think I found that I enjoy being at the top of a small business more than, if not as much as, I expected to be apart of a larger corporation.

What advice would you give to anyone looking or going into small business? There is so much advice that I would love to give to anyone looking to start a small business; I might as well write a book (haha)! A couple things I found that I think are really important are to create set goals and figure out how you plan to reach those goals. Create a good team. Have a great attitude because not everything is going to happen the way you expect it to.

What is your dream job?  My dream job would be to play football for the green bay packers! I would love to play football all day every day for my favorite team.

Do you plan to keep the cafe once you graduate? Yes, we plan to keep the café open for a long time with the help of our new partner, Josh.  Once I graduate I will be able to put more time into the café, potentially alongside another job, so that we can make upgrades to improve the restaurant.

Best of luck to you, Don, as you graduate and continue to grow your business!

Kasey is a UW-La Crosse collegiate, aspiring writer, and Campus Correspondent of the HC UW-Lax team. You can follow her on Pinterest @kaseyluo, Instagram @kaseylovergaard, and Twitter @kaseyLuO
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