Casual cosy cafe for north community

September 28, 2021 BY

Brewing up business: When 306 Howitt Street became vacant earlier this year, it “ticked all the boxes” for Luke Price to make his dream a reality. Photos: EDWINA WILLIAMS

OPEN for almost two weeks, Common Ground is aiming to become Ballarat North’s new local.

The Howitt Street cafe is a passion project for Luke Price, bringing his hospitality industry experience and 12 years’ worth of interior design expertise together.

“In March of last year, I lost my job in hospitality. I was waiting around, wondering what to do next,” he said.

“I was attracted to the cafe scene, as you can really get into design, the fit-out, and branding, as well as the hospitality side of things. That’s where this project began.”

Striving for a neighbourhood vibe to complement the residential location, Mr Price said Common Ground is an intimate, cosy and casual space.

“I really want families to bring their kids and dogs down on a Sunday. I don’t want people to feel like they’re in fine dining, but I also want them to enjoy their experience here.”

The inclusive menu has been developed mindfully, with vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. There are classic brunch-style dishes available, with a unique twist.

Earlier in the week, when the cafe had only been running for eight days, Mr Price said community support had already been “overwhelming.”

“Our opening week has been perfect. The last cafe had a big following here, so a lot of people have come back, and there’s also been a lot of new people, including those I’ve known through my years in interior design and hospitality,” he said.

“They’ve come to support me, and have discovered this spot as well, which is lovely.”

With eight staff on board, the Common Ground team are exploring options to expand their dining experience.

Outside of COVID-19 restrictions, they can seat up to 75 patrons throughout their indoor and outdoor areas.

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