Common Grounds no longer on UK ground(s)


Emily Wrenn

Common Grounds closed all of its University of Kentucky locations before the start of the fall 2022 semester. Photo by Emily Wrenn | Kentucky Kernel

Grace Medley, Reporter

Local coffee shop Common Grounds closed all three of their University of Kentucky campus locations for the 2022-2023 school year.

Common Grounds held residence in three buildings across UK’s campus: Ag. Science North, Jewell Hall and the J. David Rosenberg College of Law, serving as both social settings and study spots for students. 

David Robinson, owner of Common Grounds, said uncertainty due to COVID-19 was a major factor in the decision to remove his business from campus, which was finalized last semester.

“The first semester of last year was pretty strong, and then we saw the beginning of the last semester strong, and then a lot of the classes went back to online,” Robinson said. “So the sales, hybrid and online, kind of softened the locations a little bit.” 

Robinson also said he worries about staffing, and differences between the business’s on-campus and off-campus locations played a role in the decision to close.

“We thought it would just be so difficult to grow off campus and really just difficult to hire on campus,” Robinson said. “So we just kind of looked at it, and said it’s probably wiser for us to not do that in this environment and then just focus on our off campus locations.”

Inflation also impacted the decision to move forward with the closures.

“Our costs were going up on the food side, and then labor costs were going up, so, all of a sudden, because of all those factors, it started to get a lot more difficult for us to ultimately be profitable on our campus locations,” Robinson said.

Robinson said the decision was “100% on our [Common Grounds] part” rather than being at the behest of UK. He also said that Common Grounds retains a good relationship with both the university and Aramark Dining. 

UK Dining confirmed in an email that Common Grounds made the decision to close their campus locations.

With the end of its on-campus residence, Common Grounds is shifting its focus to the growth of its current off-campus locations. The coffee shop currently has locations on Richmond Road, Old Todds Road and Hartland Parkway.

Other businesses have filled the spaces where Common Grounds locations used to be – B’Juiced has moved into the first floor of Jewell Hall, a Wildcat Pantry is now in Ag. Science North, and PJ’s Coffee has opened in the Rosenberg College of Law.