by Lou Mancinelli
Local residents have been enjoying free baked goods, coffee, artwork and music three Friday evenings a month since September at Common Grounds Coffee House, a new free venue in Germantown whose founder is dedicated to making a difference in the community.
“It’s a place besides home and work where people can come hang out, drink free coffee and enjoy free baked goods, local musicians and artists,” said Andrew Lemon, 24, youth pastor at Calvary Assembly of God, 7910 Washington Lane in Wyncote.
Lemon came up with the idea for the coffeehouse last year when directors at Calvary AG wanted to utilize the building they rent at 6300 Wayne Ave. to host a community-related event. “They didn’t really have anyone to run it when I stepped forward with the idea,” he said.
Over the summer, Lemon, a 2009 pastoral ministry graduate from Valley Forge Christian College in Phoenixville, hosted preview events one Friday a month.
“There was a very good and quick response from the community,” said Lemon. “The place can hold about 35 people, but since we are there for four hours, about 70 or 80 people came throughout the night.”
“There were young folks and old folks and people from different backgrounds and ethnicities,” said Rachel Moore, whose artwork (abstract landscapes) was displayed during the August preview event. “There were a lot of people from the immediate community who seemed to just stumble on the venue, but I think they also have a good network, and there were people there from different towns.”
Moore’s work (moore-art.org) came to be displayed after she found out about Common Grounds through a friend of a friend. “I’m new to the area and interested in doing something in the community, and they were looking to do something with art,” said Moore, a Wyncote resident. “It was a nice fit and a cool place.”
“The atmosphere is very low key,” said Andy Kimbel, a Wyndmoor blues musician who performed two shows gratis at Common Grounds on Dec. 10. Over the past 18 years, Kimbel has toured from Seattle to Miami but said Common Grounds “is a unique venue from a number of different standpoints.
“It provides a comfort level almost like being in your living room. The environment of the venue as a small folk club is cool. They are a dying breed. A lot of small folk clubs from the ‘90s around Philadelphia when I was starting my career, like the Jumping Cow [Swarthmore], are no longer around. Where is the stepping stone place for an upcoming musician to go? This is great for that.”
“Eighty or 90 percent of the musicians and artists who have played and displayed their work have contacted me through the website or Facebook,” said Lemon. “Or someone was driving by and saw the window said ‘FREE Coffee and Baked Goods.’”
Calvary AG funds the event, but Lemon said he hopes to connect with people in the community and maybe host concert fundraisers in the future. The baked goods are baked by congregants of AG.
The Assembly of God Church was founded in 1921, when after an evangelistic street meeting conducted with a Victrola on a pushcart, a small group of believers began gathering at 4045 Germantown Ave. for fellowship and worship, according to Calvary AG’s website.
In addition to the music performances, the last Friday of each month, Common Grounds hosts “4th Flex Friday,” a night where “we do something a bit different. Some nights we throw on a movie for people to watch, some nights we’ll have a game night, some nights an art show or display, some nights a presentation about a relevant issue in today’s culture.”
In the future, Lemon wants to expand Common Grounds to become a non-profit organization, and still be able to host free music events on Friday nights. “Maybe we’ll sell mugs or tee-shirts to generate some income,” he said.
For more information, call Calvary AG at 215-886-0404 or visit www.commongroundscoffee.org.