Brewing up community
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 14, 2007
With a European sensibility, Ground Control in Goodyear is both a cozy neighborhood coffee shop and an urban wine bar with live music three nights a week.
Goodyear residents Sean and Tara Rassas opened Ground Control Coffee, Wine and Gelato Lounge on June 30.
The couple met while attending the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Sean now is stationed at Luke Air Force Base and is flying F-16s.
They got the idea to open a wine bar while living in Germany, then decided to combine it with a coffee lounge.
“In Europe, the coffeehouses were really community-centric. We wanted to re-create that here,” he said. The couple have lived in Goodyear for two years and have spent much of that time working on getting Ground Control off the ground.
The Rassases employ experienced baristas who turn the French-pressed espresso drinks into something special with flavors such as mango, coconut and pistachio. For an extra coffee treat, several baristas can design the foam to look like anything from a heart to a tiger.
Ground Control barista Steve Kelly has 21 years of experience to offer customers of the lounge, in a shopping center on the northwestern corner of Litchfield and Indian School roads.
The lounge’s unusual features and products include a coffee-bean-shaped center counter, freshly made Italian gelato, imported beers on tap, a nearly completed bar with 110 wine bottles, local art and music, specialty beers on tap and tasty panini sandwiches and pastries.
The Rassases want the lounge to be the place people come to hang out, have a drink and talk with their friends, family and neighbors.
“Business has been steadily increasing,” Sean said. “Customers are already good at being regulars and are loyal to locally owned businesses.”
One thing you won’t find is Wi-Fi. Sean said he’s resisting the idea of people on their computers because “we already sit all day in front of them.” They want their customers to talk to one another and enjoy the atmosphere.
Tara said the cozy corner booths are the most popular, especially favored by the weekend crowd.
Ground Control is the Rassases’ first business venture, but they relish the opportunity to bring their overseas experiences to the Southwest Valley. Their 7-year-old daughter, Sydney, has already been to 35 countries.
The couple’s other children, Cole, 3, and Connor, 2, spend time with their parents at the lounge, taking advantage of a children’s play area in thront corner.
A private meeting and party room should be finished by early September, adding to the something-for-everyone attitude at the lounge.