KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) – It’s the end of an era for Kenosha coffee, and it’s leaving longtime customers with a bittersweet taste.
Common Grounds is closing permanently on Wednesday, August 31.
We are lakeside in this area known as Harbor Side, historically a shipping port. The building has been around for 100 years, but some of its greatest successes may have been the last 22, when the Common Grounds cafe moved in.
It’s busy as the final hours approach.
“We will miss this place, the food, the drink,” said long-time guest Guillermo Galindo.
“It’s bittersweet to see it end, but it’s a great memory,” said fellow longtime client Don Cress.
A line formed outside before the doors even opened at 7 a.m. on the penultimate working day.
“I was asking the same question a lot of other people were asking me – ‘where are you going to go now? ‘” Cress said.
Regulars say it’s their “Cheers” coffeeshop.
“In the morning you have all your friends who, you know, come over, all the regulars, and you get to know them and talk to them,” client Nino Gigliotti said.
Common Grounds began renting out the space in 2000. The landlord says at the time people doubted it would do well. But over the next two decades, the area grew around it with luxury condos, walking trails, and plenty of green space.
“The area where Common Grounds was historically warehouses, storage areas related to shipping,” said Kenosha Community Development Specialist Michael Maki.
This is what Kenosha’s lakefront looked like decades ago.
And that was the Common Grounds building in the 1930s. A fishing market, and later the offices of visiting Kenosha nurses.
“It’s important to have a small local cafe, especially in a small residential area in and around Harbor Park, so it was very important to have this business there. I think we’re all going to be sorry to see this business shut down,” Maki said.
Coffee lovers were back on Tuesday, ordering their favorites and snapping photos for souvenirs.
“I drink green tea, iced chai. It’s probably the drink I ordered the most growing up and it’s like my last little taste,” customer Royce Galindo said.
Things have been tough at the cafe since the pandemic began more than two years ago, but for its loyal customers, getting through the rest of this week will be tough.
“I’m coming here tomorrow. I hope I don’t start crying. It’s going to be sad because I probably won’t see many of these people again,” said Sue Gigliotti.
Two and a half years into the pandemic, this is sadly part of an ongoing saga.
City staff are encouraging everyone to do their part to prevent small businesses from collapsing.