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Common Grounds Café Uncommonly Good Food, Coffee, and Times

At its core, Common Grounds Café is meant to be a gathering space for our community. Opened in January, the newest addition to Simms Library has become just that – and offers up some fantastic coffee, smoothies, and healthy snacks, too.

Common Grounds was made possible by a gift from the Reidy family – Robert, Kathy, Kristin ’87, Kaitlin ‘95, and Tim ’89 -- who wanted to create a campus focal point. The Reidys’ vision has been realized, and our students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni have all been taking advantage of it.

"We had hoped we’d see kids in here studying and talking, and a mix of faculty, staff, and students. It’s gone so much beyond that."

“Most days we completely sell out,” says Kerry Watts, senior food services director of Sage Dining. “Common Grounds Café has been more successful in terms of sales and also in terms of mood and what we envisioned for a common space. We had hoped we’d see kids in here studying and talking, and a mix of faculty, staff, and students. It’s gone so much beyond that.”

Upon entering, it is immediately clear how the community has embraced the space. On any given day you see students studying, tutoring one other, or just relaxing. Sometimes “Packawitz” (the students’ name for the musical duo of faculty members Stuart Lipkowitz and Danny Packer) will hold impromptu performances. The café is typically bustling, and the energy in the room isn’t due only to the coffee.

The coffee served at Common Grounds, organic and Fair Trade certified, is roasted locally by mother/daughter-owned Red Rock Roasters. And the food being served is all Sage-made, with the same high-quality and nutritious ingredients our students eat at lunch.

Common Grounds pulled out all the stops for their menu – fresh-made breakfast burritos and bagel dough straight from New York City are just a couple examples of the level of quality students can expect.

Although Sage is still adding items, the menu is about 95 percent complete, says Watts, and it seems every item is a hit. The most popular drinks are smoothies, which account for almost half of sales – even when it was cold outside. Other favorites include boba tea, London fogs, and anything hot chocolate- or mocha-related.

"I think my favorite thing about Common Grounds is that we have this really great atmosphere of teachers and students interacting together."

More changes and improvements are in the works. The café recently revealed its new logo designed by Cody Roe '20, so be on the lookout for branded cups. And in late spring, the Japanese garden outside the café will have a patio added as part of a larger upkeep project, so students can enjoy their drinks in the fresh air.

What do students like most about Common Grounds? Most say the community surrounding Common Grounds is what they value the most – it’s not just a place to fuel up.

“I think my favorite thing about Common Grounds is that we have this really great atmosphere of teachers and students interacting together,” says Brianna Xie ’21. “So oftentimes I’ll come over and I’ll see a bunch of my teachers just chatting. It’s just a really good thing to be a part of.”