Breaking News
More () »

The perfect blend: Missouri coffee shop run by employees with disabilities

Common Grounds opened in 2019 with the specific intention of hiring workers with special needs.

STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. — At the corner of Merchant and Third in downtown St. Genevieve, they're putting the good in good morning.

Welcome to Common Grounds, a coffee shop where something unique is brewing.

"The coffee is good," exclaimed customer Tammy Hansen. "And the food is never disappointing."

But this cafe's secret ingredient isn't what they're serving but who's serving it.

"They're always happy. I don't know if I ever walked in here and seen anyone in a bad mood," County Deputy Sheriff Jason Schott said with a laugh.

Common Grounds opened in 2019, with the specific intention of hiring workers with special needs.

"They learn how to run the cash register," explained General Manager Pam Billings. "They learn the difference between, the muffins and the scones. They know how to run the Frankie machine which makes our drinks"

Sam Steagall, 24, has been working here since day one.

"What do you like about this job?" we asked. 

"Everything! I love my job," Steagall said.

That seems to be a theme. No complaints about the daily grind.

"It's very lively and upbeat here," said Sam's colleague, Nikki Ringwald. "You come to work and everybody wants to do the best that they can with what they have."

Keep in mind for many of the workers here, that's a refreshing change.

"I had several jobs in the past where I did not get treated right," recalled Jason Hill. "That's because I have a learning disability that's not my fault. I was born with it."

The Coffee Shop is funded by a taxing entity in St. Genevieve County called Senate Bill 40. Deputy Sheriff Jason Schott is the Chairman.

They bought the old Post Office and then partnered with Kaldi's Coffee Roasting Company out of St. Louis.

"Business is great," said Schott. "We went through the stint with COVID that kind of slowed us down some but we recovered. And, we've been running strong ever since."

When we asked what the place does to Schott's heart, he got emotional and couldn't speak.

But saying nothing sometimes says everything.

Making a difference by being respectful of our differences.

"So if you were to give it a review, one star to four stars with four stars being best," we asked customer Vickie Bruckerhoff, "what would you give it?"

"Four!" she said. "Absolutely. And then some!"

Common Grounds is the Missouri coffee shop that found the perfect blend.

Before You Leave, Check This Out