STHM Alumnus Shawn Bullard Opens North Philadelphia Coffee Shop
When you first walk into Common Grounds, you’re immediately struck by the colorful artwork that covers the walls and the aroma of freshly-roasted coffee and delicious treats that fill the air. The atmosphere is buzzing with North Philly neighbors enjoying a bite with friends and Temple University students buried deep in their studies by the cozy fireplace in the downstairs lounge. It’s hard to not feel at home when you walk through the door.
Common Grounds—which opened its doors this past September—is the vision of Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) 2005 alumni and former San Diego Chargers Outside Linebacker, Shawn Bullard and partner, Stephen Yaeger. They wanted to create a space that brought the Temple University and North Philly community together in a community-before-profit environment.
When it came to deciding on the 16th and Cecil B. Moore Avenue location, Bullard’s personal relationship with STHM made it a no brainer. “I believe in Temple University and I believe in the student body. I bleed and live Temple University” Bullard told Temple News. He also found himself annoyed with the Temple area being overlooked by entrepreneurs and business owners.
“I was getting tired and frustrated with seeing the University of Pennsylvania have all these high-end restaurants and cafes and everybody just overlooking Temple University,” he said. “Like the Temple student body can’t enjoy it, or doesn’t deserve it, or doesn’t have the economic resources to spend,” explained Bullard.
Bullard and Yaeger’s respect for community shines through in every part of the Common Grounds business model. They use only biodegradable materials and source products from local vendors. They chose to work with ReAnimator Coffee—a Philly-based company with onsite roasting—as well as Misfits Market—a business focused on eliminating global produce waste by using products deemed “unattractive” by grocery stores but are still healthy and edible. In fact, Common Grounds is the first-ever restaurant to breakthrough Misfits Market’s policy of not supplying to restaurants—which was no easy task.
Common Grounds is also looking out for the members of the community who many forget. Their “Joes For Bros” program allows customers to pre-purchase a coffee for a person in need. This is a simple way for them to perpetuate the message that everyone is welcome no matter what.
One of the most symbolic policies that Common Grounds has adopted since opening is keeping their cafe door open during business hours—weather permitting, of course. In order to visually demonstrate their mission to be an all-inclusive, community-oriented space.