Branching out from Waco: Common Grounds opens new Fort Worth location

A family grabs coffee at the Fort Worth location of Common Grounds. Photo courtesy of Common Grounds Fort Worth.

By Megan Lockhart | Reporter

Baylor alumni-owned Common Grounds brought their business to a new city this summer. The COVID-19 crisis has forced the new Fort Worth location to navigate unexpected challenges on top of those a new storefront would already present.

Since its opening in 1995, Common Grounds has become a staple in the Baylor community. Owned by Blake and Kimberly Batson, the coffee shop expanded into the city of Fort Worth this summer: its first location outside of Waco.

“We felt like there was a low risk in trying to expand to a bigger city because even if we didn’t have the hardcore local support, we knew that plenty of people who lived in Fort Worth had been to Baylor before or have been through Baylor because of TCU-Baylor games,” Trey Lumley, the co-owner and general manager of Common Grounds Fort Worth, said.

However, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic did not make the process of opening easy for the new location. Lumley recalled the “unnecessary amount of stress” the virus caused through the construction and planning of the new shop and, most impactfully, its concert venue.

“It’s pretty much a industry-wide thing, which leads me to believe that we’re not going to have any concerts in 2020. And that’s a really hard piece to navigate because we realize that’s a big draw for us to get new customers,” Lumley said. “People that wouldn’t come to this space for a cup of coffee will come to it for a concert.”

In order to overcome this problem, the company has found new creative ways for people to experience the music aspect of their business.

“We’re going to do an artist of the week video that we put on our YouTube page,” Lumley said. “That way, we can still be involved with the culture of music while still doing what we can to keep people safe.”

Despite the branch off to a new city, Common Grounds remains true to its roots with the cozy, charming atmosphere it creates for its customers.

“I think it’s really cool and interesting to watch a local coffee shop grow,” Hope Wissel, a barista and shift lead at Common Grounds Waco, said. “I think Common Grounds will never lose the local touch that we always kind of go for with the environment we create for our customers. I think that we will always keep that local feeling alive.”

Lumley has worked at Common Grounds for six years and was a strong supporter of an expansion for the company.

“I was actually going to go to the owner himself and ask about expanding more south towards Austin. The opportunity for expansion to Fort Worth was kind of a surprise,” Lumley said.

Through the new location, the company is also attracting Baylor alumni who now live in the Fort Worth area.

“I always visit whenever I go back to Waco for games or homecoming to get my Common Grounds coffee fix so I’m really excited for it to come here,” Brooke Bailey, a Baylor alumna and Fort Worth resident, said. “I think it’s awesome that I’ll have part of my Baylor home here in Fort Worth.”