Common Grounds evolves Featured

Common Grounds evolves

left to right: Lynn James, manager; Dave Burows, catering manager; Raysha Willis, RVI; Sam Arrizola, RVI; Brenda Smith, Executive Director, RVI; Scott Rider, RVI.

Last week Common Grounds at the Sutton Center in Port Clinton had a soft opening, continuing its organic evolution. The word has already spread that it is a special place for coffee, breakfast and lunch.

The coordinator of the evolution of Common Grounds is Brenda Smith, Executive Director of Riverview Industries Inc. (RVI) of Oak Harbor. RVI’s purpose is “to provide a meaningful work experience and quality of life for the benefit of adults with developmental disabilities.” Five Riverview clients are learning and working at Common Grounds.

Smith found out about the availability of the coffee shop shortly after RVI had established their goal for the year. The goal, “to bring the community into RVI and to bring RVI into the community” is being realized in Common Grounds, which already had an ideal name for such a venture. 

“Chef Cesare (Cesare Avallone, Executive Chef and owner of Sandusky’s Zinc Brasserie and Crush Wine Bar) has been an immense help. I just called him and he met with me. He wants to see us succeed. Likewise Rita Killian, a designer referred by Doug and Toni Garrett, has helped pull it all together,” said Smith. “Pastor Kurt Burows of Resurrection Lutheran on Catawba did a blessing. We have the help of a lot of really talented professional people.” 

Lynn James, a professional barista, is the manager. Dave Burows is in charge of catering. The art is from RVI’s Imagine Art project. “We are still nailing down the quality and the service,” said Smith. But mostly, she has been humbled by the way things have worked, “the serendipity” of the bringing of the community and resources together.

Art from Imagine Art

Common Grounds is at 1848 E. Perry Street, Port Clinton. It is open seven days a week. Hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m.-1 p.m. 

For more information, call 419-732-3777, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit For more information on RVI, go to

back to top