Faithful Grounds celebrates 1 year

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

Faithful Grounds coffee shop opened their doors at 1908 N. 8th street on November 11, 2019. Since then, they've grown, offering over 6,800 flavors of coffee and other drinks, daily lunch specials, homemade goodies made from scratch and more. Owner Cathy Vargas along with her daughter, Kristen, create, cook and bake all of the food at the coffee shop.

Kristen Vargas (left) and Cathy Vargas operate Faithful Grounds coffee shop at N. 8th Street/Broadway in Ballinger. The shop opened their doors on November 11, 2019 and found success quickly, becoming the go-to destination for fresh breakfast items and lunch specials.

Cathy says that the idea for a coffee shop popped up during a conversation that she and Kristen were having one day, "We were talking after leaving Starbucks in San Angelo. We talked about how Ballinger needed a coffee shop and that we could start one. We owned the Grab and Go cafe' in Levelland and knew what it would take to make this happen in Ballinger."

Kristen Vargas (blue shirt) creates a coffee for a customer at Faithful Grounds.

The shop is located in an ideal location, at the intersection of N. 8th street and Broadway. The shop is on the main thoroughfare to Ballinger High School and Buddy's Plant Plus. Across the street from the shop are Ballinger Memorial Hospital and the Ballinger nursing home.

The idea progressed quickly with the ladies quickly beginning their quest to find a suitable location to purchase, "The next day we started looking for land. Eventually we found this land for sale and purchased it. We started as a coffee shop, but the food side of the business really took off."

Kristen says that it didn't take the community long to respond to the new coffee shop, "The response has been positive. In all the time that we've been open, we had one customer complain. They were upset because it was taking some time for them to get their order. We had a line out to the street and were serving as quickly as possible, but this customer was in a hurry. We have a 100% customer satisfaction policy. If they aren't happy with their order, we'll make it again until we get it the way that they want it or we'll refund their money."

The large Club sandwich with French fries is just one of the many menu items offered in addition to the daily lunch specials at Faithful Grounds.

Everything in the shop is fresh and homemade, starting at 5 a.m. Cathy says that while they don't open until 6:30 a.m., they will serve people who come up or make orders online, "We tell everyone that if our cars are here, we're here, so we'll serve you. We have several customers who come here before 6:30 a.m. because they have to be at work before we open. Buddy's Plant Plus has workers who stop by here because they want their coffee before they go to work, so we serve them. We value our customers and if we're here, there isn't any reason not to serve a customer."

The lunch specials have really taken off and have a loyal customer base. Kristen says that is due to a couple of reasons, "We've sold 22 burger baskets in an hour. We seek input from the community on what they'd like to see us offer as a lunch special. We listen to our customers and try to get lunch specials that they want to see on the menu." Any specials left after 1 p.m. don't go to waste, "We call several of our elderly customers and ask them if they'd like the specials. If they do, we'll get the food to them free. We'd rather give the food to someone who needs it than to throw it in the trash. The community is our customers and the customers are our friends."

The shop is already well known for their homemade muffins, but they're also gaining a reputation for their highly sought after sweet honey cornbread, which has become a staple. Some of their other foods are ordered in bulk, "We have people who've ordered 44 ounces of our pasta salad and 44 ounces of our chicken salad. We also have a brisket salad that is popular. For the brisket salad, we top it with fried onions."

The shop is looking to expand by adding on to the building to increase the seating capacity. They're also adding gluten-free items to their menu, "We have sugar-free items for diabetics, but we want to also add sugar-free items," Cathy points out.

As for supporting the community that supports the shop, Faithful Grounds participates in the toy drive every year, "If someone brings in a $5 toy, they'll get a free 16-ounce coffee. If they bring in a $10 toy, they get 50% off a large coffee. That has worked out great." The shop gives a discount to veterans, teachers, nurses and first responders. They also have a loyalty card, where with the 10th punch, the customer receives a free lunch special or other item of their choosing.

With over 6,800 drink combinations to choose from, as well as their daily menu that includes sandwiches and other items in addition to their daily lunch speciasl, there is something for everyone. Kristen says that nothing is made until the customer orders it, "Our breakfast burritos are huge, but we don't make them until a customer orders one. They aren't pre-made and sitting under a warmer for a couple of hours."

The shop is also becoming known for their homemade desserts, as well as their muffins. Presently they offer fresh chocolate, blueberry, red velvet, banana nut muffins, as well as a few other types. The muffins are extra large and baked each morning.

They coffee shop is open Monday-Friday, from 6:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. The ladies said that customers have inquired about the possibility of them opening on weekends, "It's just Kristen and I here so doing this 7 days a week would be impossible with just the 2 of us." Kristen said that she and her husband have 2 children, "One of our children plays sports and the other is a toddler. I couldn't do this 7 days a week."

When it comes to ordering food, you can order online at www.FaithfulGrounds.com, or by calling 325-277-1137 or you can place your order when you get there.