by Jatelle Woods
My family has lived in the Historic South Atlanta area for three generations. My grandmother stayed in the Villages of Carver apartment complex, and my mom attended Price High School, which has now become Price Middle School. I moved into South Atlanta three and a half years ago, and I started visiting Community Grounds as a customer.
It is only a block away from my house, and I loved it! It was great to have a community spot so close and so welcoming. I saw strong potential at Community Grounds, and when I had the opportunity to come on board as the Store Manager in December 2015, I was excited to be a part of this local business.
One thing I love about Community Grounds is how it builds community. The shop is a common setting for unlikely interactions. Every morning, Rick and Larry, two older gentlemen in the neighborhood, sip their drinks and jump into passionate conversations. It creates a lively environment, but I also get to watch them engage kids who walk into the shop before school. Not too long ago, an 80 year old woman asked a teenager who’d come in the shop to try out his hoverboard. And there she was, gripping onto his arm and testing it out!
One of our goals we strive towards is to make sure everyone feels welcome here - kids after school, Ms Sylvia coming in for conversation, the working moms, and every unexpected person who enters through our doors. No matter how much the store may grow in the future, I hope these relational mixes continue to happen.
We know Community Grounds is often ground zero for neighborhood kids to learn how to act in a public space. It is challenging at times, but we’re going to hold that line because we respect the other customers who come here. As teenagers are learning so much about life and interacting with others, we want them to learn those lessons here with love from their neighbors.
There’s good stuff happening at the shop all the time. In fact, because people are attracted to the positive atmosphere we’re trying to create here, we’ve received several requests to film on location from local studios. I’m glad to see people like being at Community Grounds. One customer told me, “The coffee is good. The food’s good. The staff is polite. It’s quiet, but not too quiet. I just hope no one else finds out about it. I just like being here.”
Well, I do hope others find out about it, but I’m thankful for the ways Community Grounds has truly leaned into the community. We are proud to be a space familiar to local young people as well as city leaders who host gatherings or attend neighborhood meetings. We serve great coffee, but we also provide valuable connections in the community, and it’s a joy to serve in this way, too!