Houston native Michele Williams moved back to the city to open Common Grounds Sit and Chill, a cafe in Upper Kirby, after spending 15 years in Louisiana.

The veteran flight attendant returns with a mission to foster community, honor God and serve coffee to residents in the River Oaks area; where she said she didn’t feel like she belonged in her youth.

“As a young woman I thought I could never venture out into River Oaks," she said. "You still get looks in certain places. But because of who I am, I'm changing the atmosphere."

The details

Williams officially opened the boutique coffee shop on April 4 at Five Central—a multi-level, multi-purpose venue that also houses a cigar lounge, multiple bars, a restaurant, patio and hosting space for live music acts on the weekends.

Five Central's owners had been looking to occupy a shell space in the venue’s lower left quadrant with a coffee shop for years, Williams said. In 2019, she had lunch with a friend on the patio and met the owner.

The owner at the time encouraged her to take over the spot, but the timing wasn't right, Williams said. Four years later, she returned for lunch with her youngest son and found the space was still available.

"I met another owner in December, and he said, 'You're the missing piece to the puzzle.' So that's how I got here," she said. "So I started packing up in February and moved in in March."
Coffee Grounds owner Michele Williams said she is known for her bread pudding. (Asia Armour/Community Impact)
What they offer

Williams owns and operates the shop by herself. She said her customers gush over her extra large cinnamon rolls, and also said she is known for her bread pudding and her chicken salad croissant sandwiches.

But even more important than the food and coffee are the connections she’s able to foster with customers, Williams said. She wants the space to be a community builder for musicians to perform and groups to meet for things like Bible study, she said.

"I've always been a community person," Williams said. "I want people to come to Common Grounds and make this their spot."
Jumbo cinnamon rolls can be topped with pecans. (Asia Armour/Community Impact)
The backstory

Williams’ journey as a coffee shop owner began when she first moved to a small town near Lake Charles, Louisiana.

She said the town had been fostering a divisive culture among its residents, but she worked to bridge the gap by collecting and highlighting the city's history and displaying it throughout the shop.

This effort brought all people together in one place to create a true common ground, she said.

“And so that's what I like to do, is bring people together," Williams said. "I believe that making a difference in everybody's life is what I'm called to do."