One-on-one with Jonathan Reed, owner of Stomping Grounds

Jonathan Reed the owner of Stomping Grounds makes cappuccino on Wednesday June 6th at Stomping Grounds.

Jonathan Krueger

Jonathan Reed, 34, of Ames, and owner of Lucullan’s, is the owner of Stomping Grounds cafe, located on Welch Avenue in Campustown. We sat down with Reed to discuss his business in this week’s one-on-one.

What interested you in owning the coffee shop?

Well I had worked in a coffee shop before. As a kid, when I was 14, I worked in a coffee shop for two or three years and I just got really interested in old coffee shop culture, like coffee houses from the 60s or 70s. I started a car dealing business when I was 17. I had that for three or four years, but it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t the right industry. I’m not a car guy. So, somebody told me the coffee shop was for sale, that’s how I heard about it.

What is your favorite thing about owning Stomping Grounds?

It’s something I love to do. The people are great. Working with beverages — coffee, beer and wine — and great food. It’s just really enjoyable atmosphere and place to work.

Do you think having the outdoor patio helps business for you? Or, how do you feel it works?

Yeah, this location, that’s a huge reason why I stayed and did this business. This location —it’s like the last business on Welch Avenue, before it becomes residential. There’s a lot of trees around. That patio seats a hundred people and it’s shaded — nice environment. It’s nice actually being right on Welch.

What kind of reaction did you want them to get, coming here?

I suppose you could answer that in a lot of different ways. It’s a European style cafe, so what I thought was a really comfortable feeling. You can go there and get a beer, you can get a coffee, you can go and have a meal. It’s more flexible, relaxed kind of atmosphere. I tried to create a really warm, kind of a nice, environment to be in.

There are talks around Iowa State that it’s kind of a hipster place to hang out. Do you think that’s true?

I don’t know. I don’t even know if I totally understand what that term means. I didn’t create it to be that. My brother-in-law’s brother is an architect, and he helped me design it. So you’ve got a really well designed space. There are really good, quality products. The flooring is nice and the tables too. I think we did well with colors to create a really nice place. We were very careful choosing paint colors. We certainly didn’t market toward “hipsters.” Actually, I’d say our largest clientele are professors and faculty. I’m sure we have our share of hipsters.

What goes into your decisions on hiring people?

Depends on the position. Some positions, it’s guaranteed more work than others, but in general experience is one of the first things we look for in hiring. Besides that, if they interview well. If they seem like a sharp and a warm person, particularly in the front of the house.

Why did you choose to also bring on that restaurant?

It’s a really good opportunity. I found out about it this winter and it’s been in Ames for 34 years. The idea was to be able to keep that going, so it doesn’t just end and go away. About two years ago I started really getting into Italian wine. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have bought it. But I started to really get interested. I always liked French culture, we have a lot of French wines here, so something to do with a European style cafe. That’s kind of a nice complement.

Are you looking to change up the atmosphere, or do you want to keep it the same way?

Initially, we’re just cleaning right now and painting. Making it a little nicer in there.

Are you going to keep the menus the same?

It’s so new. We just made the deal last month basically, so plans are in development.

Do you feel like you’ll be able to handle both restaurants?

I’ve got great managers here. This place has been consistent, running for a long time. I’m going to stay really involved here, of course. Having both places will allow me to step away little bit from here. So I’d like to have great managers in both and be involved in both.

Do you plan on doing more business ventures like this?

No, I wasn’t planning on doing anything. Like I said, this came around and I thought it was a really good opportunity.

Is there anything more you’d like people to know about Stomping Grounds?

I like the food here a lot. I try to make the kind of food that I like to eat and that I’m comfortable eating on a regular basis. So our food’s really healthy. We have really high quality ingredients.