Lenihan students visit area businesses, plan their own mock restaurant


Jerry and Kim Gratopp of Smokin’ G’s Restaurant talk about their business with Lenihan Intermediate School Extended Learning Program students on February 27.

Sixth graders in the Lenihan Intermediate School Extended Learning Program visited three area businesses on February 27 as they research for their own mock restaurant business as part of Project Based Learning. The group, led by XLP teacher Vanessa Engel, visited Smokin’ G’s Restaurant and Wayward Social Eats & Alleys in Marshalltown and Your Plate or Mine in Union.

At the Smokin’ G’s stop, owners Kim and Jerry Gratopp talked about staffing, planning, health department requirements and more. At your Plate or Mine, the students met with owner Leona McDonough who spoke about how she had to move after her downtown Marshalltown business was damaged during the July 19 tornado. At Wayward Social, Owner Aaron Buzbee talked to the students about the importance of hard work, especially if you are business owner since “your business and your people need you.”

All three businesses attributed their success to the importance of giving back to the community, of word of mouth from happy customers as marketing and being passionate about what they do.

The Lenihan students will next plan their own mock restaurant with a budget of $5,000 and work that will include inventory, building layout and design, menu, recipes, advertising and more.


Leona McDonough of Your Plate or Mine talks to the students.


Wayward Social Owner Aaron Buzbee, center, takes a group photo with the Lenihan students.