• Investing in Waco: The Baylor alums behind Common Grounds, Milo, Fabled & more

    Blake and Kimberly Batson

    You’d be hard-pressed to find a Baylor student over the last 30 years who hasn’t set foot in Common Grounds at least once. Blake (BA ’08) and Kimberly (BA ’07) Batson were once among those students; many years later, they’ve made Common Grounds — and the Waco community — integral parts of their adult lives.

    Coffee, books, pizza, ice cream — those are just a few of the offerings the Batsons have added to Waco through an entrepreneurial spirit and community focus.

    The roots go back to Blake’s Baylor days as a Common Grounds barista. A philosophy major, he found he enjoyed working at Common Grounds, and the Batsons eventually purchased the iconic coffee shop. That was just the beginning. They’ve followed that move by building establishments that have become Waco dining staples, including Slow Rise Slice House, Milo, and Heritage Creamery.

    Kimberly, an English major, had business dreams of her own. Specifically, she’d long hoped to own a bookstore. Years of hard work and planning led to the 2019 opening of Fabled Bookshop and Cafe, along with business partner Alison Frenzel. The independent bookstore quickly drew praise both for its selection of books and its overall aesthetic (which includes a fun, interactive nod to the classic series of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis; anyone who has visited the bookstore with young children is likely familiar).

    As they’ve built new businesses in Waco, the Batsons have remained close to their alma mater. (There’s even a Common Grounds on campus in the Bill Daniel Student Center!) In 2019, the Batsons’ coffee roaster, Native Sons Roasters, collaborated with the university to launch a Baylor blend that supported Baylor Missions trips and communities around the globe.

    “We have a passion for bringing people together over a cup of coffee, inspired food or a great book,” Kimberly Batson said when the blend was launched. “The opportunity to spread this passion of creating connection to communities, especially those making a difference in our world, was incredible.”

    Far from complacent, they continue to launch new locations of Common Grounds, Slow Rise and Heritage Creamery. They’ll soon open a third Waco-area Common Grounds. There’s even, believe it or not, a Common Grounds in the shadows of the TCU campus in Fort Worth. The next time you find yourself there, consider it a green and gold lifeline from two community-minded Baylor alums amidst that sea of purple.

    Sic ’em, Blake and Kimberly Batson!