Home > business, columns, dining, Pittsburgh, Review > Review: Uncommon Grounds Cafe

Review: Uncommon Grounds Cafe

uncommongroundsCapture from The Uncommon Grounds Cafe website, click it to go there. Another excellent Cafe opened up, and there are two things extraordinary about it: 1. It’s a Church Army project, and 2.It’s in Aliquippa. Now, before you go click on to the next article right away, muttering in your head “there’s no way I’m going to anything in Aliquippa without a 9mm in my pocket, nor am I going anywhere to get preached at” … listen up a bit – this place may change your mind, and may change Aliquippa.

First when you see the front and realize the work done to the building (and the fact that it was done mostly by volunteers), it will quickly drop your jaw. When you walk in and find something that Shadyside, Mount Lebanon, and Southside Works wished they had – you will end up staying a while.

When you sit in The Uncommon Grounds Cafe, you look out the window at the beautiful playground across the street and out the side doors at the mini-park (which is to be expanded in the future) and your mindset is no longer in Aliquippa. When you taste the quality of the food and coffee, you no longer see a line cook behind the counter … you see a chef and a barista. When you notice the inviting friendliness of all of the people (not just a few looking for contacts) you start marking in your mind this is a place visit again. When you don’t get preached at, you experience the reality of the people there. When you go back a few more times, you notice a community being reborn, not from stimulus funds, but from themselves and their beliefs. Even if you don’t believe the way they do, you still become “part of the family”.

The entertainment consists of spoken word, and excellent local musicians (they are always looking for more … so give them a buzz). Entertainment here is family oriented, but not cheesy, and everything is very “kid safe”. In other words, you can take your kids there without worry of “alternative poetry” and such that you will have to explain when you get home and still hang out at a very cool place. The music is not hardcore Christian, and not lame. When SWB visited we were treated we an extremely good version of Solsbury Hill in the way Glass Moon did the song (yes, I’m aging myself here, but give me a break, and help me push my wheelchair in the door if you see me at UGC).

There are a few characters to be found at Uncommon Grounds – one of the best and most delightful is John Stanley (an import from Australia), who started the place (and incidentally held it up as part of it fell down). Click Here for the Uncommon Ground Cafe Story story to date.

Looking at this establishment purely from a “secular” point of view we give it the following ratings:

  • Food quality and originality – 4.5 out of 5
  • Atmosphere – 4.7 out of 5
  • Entertainment – 4.5 out of 5
  • Beverage Selection (all non-alcoholic) – 4.5 out of 5
  • Service – 5 out of 5
  • Overall – 4.64 out of 5

And yes, we’re comparing them to the cool places where all of the “seen and be seen” people hang out.

On a side note: If you have ever visited the main road of Aliquippa, you can easily imagine the next Shadyside, maybe a little more affordable and family friendly. The parking access is excellent, sidewalks wide (great Tuscan outdoor cafe’ potential), and close to major highways. This group may have kicked off the next hot spot.

If you are not into the “church project” aspect of UGC, keep in mind they go through great lengths to support local businesses (and they serve Kiva Han coffee … although I may have to work on John to sneak some La Prima in there too)- so you may want to look at them from that angle. The people at The Uncommon Grounds Cafe are some of the few that do honestly good work without expectations of reward from others. This is the type of community venture you support, simply because it does take root.

The Uncommon Grounds Cafe will be listed under SWB Recommends


PS – If you don’t want to drive to Aliquippa, please keep in mind this project is supported by donations. Click Here to go to their website and send ’em a fin (or more) … it all builds up.

BTW – this is the type of place you visit, end up saying “Wow!”, and come back to every week. Give it a try.

  1. May 12, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Hey Weasel! Thanks for the review! You’re right, it’s anamazing place to visit and even better to hang out. Open Mic Thursday and Movie night Friday (3 free on 10′ screen, with popcorn and/or latte) are the top picks, although Saturday with live music is becoming quite popular, too

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