If a person is in search of a place that serves good coffee and linked with an even better cause, then the search can end at Common Grounds Coffee House in Ste. Genevieve.
Just recently the Ste. Genevieve County Senate Bill 40 Board opened up this coffee shop with the specific intention of employing individuals with special needs.
This business enables individuals with special needs to gain experience in a working environment, so that, if they wanted to, they could move on to other types of employment.
“An area that I see is really lacking in the community, and actually across the state, is employment for those with special needs,” said Jason Schott, chairman for the Senate Bill 40 Board.
The coffee shop is located at the southeast corner of Merchant Street and Third Street in downtown Ste. Genevieve. It offers a variety of drinks including lattes, mochas and hot and iced tea which is supplied by Kaldi’s coffee out of St. Louis.
And it’s not just coffee. There are several options for treats like brownies, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins and Belgian waffles.
All these things create the perfect coffee house atmosphere that is fueled by the service from its employees.
Schott said that from what he has seen, the cinnamon rolls have been a huge hit among customers.
“Our employees are the main ones running the point of sale, busing the tables, doing the espresso machine and getting the food,” explained Schott. “We wanted them to be able to do the work.
“If you come in here and are having a bad day, you are going to walk out of here with a good day.”
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Currently the coffee house is open Monday through Friday from 6 to 11 a.m.
“With our hours and services, we wanted to start small to see if we have support,” said Schott. “Maybe down the road we will have weekends or branch into a lunch time hour, who knows. We just wanted to start small and see how it goes.”
When Schott first pitched the idea to open this coffee shop to the other board members he received “absolutely no push back.”
“The board was completely for it, and anytime we try to do anything for the community with special needs, the board is always all in,” said Schott.
Since opening, the coffee house is staying consistently busy, according to Schott. “The biggest draw for people to come is the employees.”
“The coffee you get here may not be the fancy pour overs or designs that you get elsewhere, but we aren’t here for the fancy designs,” said Schott. “We are here for the employment of the individual.
“If an employee wants to stay with us forever, that is great, but our goal here is to give them enough job training, so that they could go work at another place of business if they wanted to.”
Schott said that they are working on getting the coffee house established and that the goal is to get the coffee shop to a place where it can be sustainable for years to come.
The name, Common Grounds Coffee House, was the idea of Dena Kreitler, executive director for the Chamber of Commerce.
“I think the name fits well,” said Schott. “When you walk in here, everyone is on a common ground, and no one is different.”