This post is part of a series, "Rod's Rambles," where Rod travels the world interviewing small business owners to listen and learn how they turned their passion into profits when starting their own businesses.
Pssst, slow down. Take a moment and smell the coffee… or the tea or even the great breakfast sandwiches made by Matt Brower and his team at Grounds Central Station in Downtown Manassas.
Go there for the coffee, go back again and again for the great people and experiences. I originally found GCS in March 2015 while in Manassas on business. I had time between meetings and wanted a great cup of coffee and an equally good experience. Not being too familiar with Manassas I turned to Yelp for guidance and boom – I found GCS (with a 4.5 star Yelp Rating to boot).
Over the past year, I have been back to GCS, oh, a couple of times! I have gotten to know Matt and his merry band of baristas pretty well. One thing Matt serves – above and beyond a great Americano – is “community.”
During one visit I met Phil, an engaging barber from CutRate Barbershop (also located in Downtown Manassas). Even though I live 30 minutes away, Phil now cuts my hair and we trade stories (and coffee) regularly.
During another visit (did I mention Matt’s Americanos are GREAT), Matt introduced me to Ryan and Alycia Otte, owners of Monument Coffee Roasters. Over this past year, Matt has shown his commitment to working with other local business owners and building his own “One Degree Community.”
One of my favorite things to do during my travels (whether nationally or locally) is to ask business owners I meet four questions. The tenacity and courage of the American Small Business Owner are one of the things I value most about our great country, and I love each opportunity to learn more about them.
On a recent trip to GCS, I sat down with Matt and asked him Four Questions:
Rod: Why did you start your business?
Matt: I lived in Tallahassee, Fla. and worked as a manager in a restaurant and I flipped houses on the side. I’ve always worked in restaurants and knew that someday I wanted to do my own thing. Originally I thought I’d start a full-service restaurant, but the number of start-up costs was prohibitive. So I figured I’d start a coffee shop and then eventually start a restaurant. But now I love running the coffee shop so much that I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Rod: What are some of your plans to grow your business?
Matt: Step one is to keep taking care of our great customers and provide them with a great experience each time they come into our store. Also, we recently purchased a trailer to start a remote coffee service to be used at parades, festivals, farmers markets, etc. Eventually, we might start a second location if we find the right location.
Rod: What do you love most about running Grounds Central Station?
Matt: The customers. I love hearing their stories and learning about their families and friends. It’s also nice to provide the community with a great meeting place.
Rod: What’s a big challenge you have overcome in your business?
Matt: In the beginning, it was tough working the long hours, but now I’m over that. The big challenge now is juggling business and family time. Other challenges today are how best to continue getting the word out and finding more space for our customers and the supplies it takes to run the business.
Matt is committed to building his business as well as supporting other local businesses. His coffee beans are from local Monument Coffee Roasters and each month Matt features new art from local artists at his shop.
Have a suggestion for a small business Rod should visit next? Tell us and if we feature that business on our website we will send you a $100 gift certificate to use at that business!*
*In the event a business is recommended to us multiple times prior to our feature being published, we will select the winner by random drawing.