Brandon and I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to visit with Jose Ramon Campos, the operating partner of CommonWealth Coffeehouse & Bakery. Many of you are probably already fans of this delicious French bakery, which recently celebrated its two-year anniversary, but you may not know some of the backstory and what differentiates this coffeehouse.
Jose struck me as very genuine and diligent; he is definitely a rising leader in our community. While his family originally hails from Mexico, they moved to San Antonio when Jose was young. Jose attended Antonian High School before studying at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Upon graduation, he worked in San Francisco and then moved to France for about a year, immersing himself in the language, culture, and cuisine. He settled back in San Antonio in 2013 to be close to his family and began working as a business consultant.
One of Jose’s consulting clients was Jorge Herrero. Jorge originally tried to open CommonWealth in the charming Alamo Heights neighborhood, but was met with opposition from the city. During the zoning struggles, Jose became involved and helped successfully clear the way to get the business open. It was then that he became a partner in and operator of the coffeehouse.
From the beginning, Jose and Jorge wanted CommonWealth to be authentically French, so they hired a baker and chef from France to bake the pastries and bread daily. The menu is predominantly French, but Jose and Jorge couldn’t resist catering to San Antonio’s love of the breakfast taco, so those are also offered among the delicious French menu items. The back yard houses a garden as well as a chicken palace where fresh eggs are gathered and used daily. Jose and his team feel it is important to buy the freshest and highest quality ingredients from local farmers and vendors. Their coffee is sourced from Boerne and Austin.
CommonWealth has a cozy ambiance, thanks to the design and vision Jorge had for the old house he turned into the coffeehouse. With both indoor seating, as well as nicely shaded outdoor seating, the coffeehouse is a great place to have business meetings, take your family, or meet with friends. CommonWealth continues to grow both as a neighborhood favorite, as well as a destination.
Though Jose has never paid to advertise, the coffeehouse’s popularity has grown naturally through word-of-mouth and social media (Jose manages an awesome Instagram page for CommonWealth). Due to the success of the first location, CommonWealth will soon be expanding. A second location is in the works for the Hemisfair area and will be open around April of this year. There are also plans for several smaller kiosks at some area hospitals.
Besides having amazing food (one of my favorites is the Croissant Aux Amandes – a handmade croissant with an almond crème and almond topping), the one thing that struck me is how community-minded CommonWealth is run. Not only does the coffeehouse buy ingredients from local sources, but they also do much to support the community and local nonprofit organizations, such as Dress for Success, Raices, and the Junior League. As a consumer, this really means a lot to me. I love hearing about businesses who give back to the community and I go out of my way to support those local businesses.
If you haven’t already dined for breakfast, lunch or Saturday Brunch at CommonWealth, I highly encourage you to do so. Once you do, you’ll be hooked on the delicious French cuisine (or breakfast tacos) and the comfortable setting of this charming neighborhood coffeehouse, and you’ll be supporting a local entrepreneur who cares about our community.
Upcoming events to consider:
Cocktails & Culture: Above and Beyond – February 22
Texas Monthly’s Cook Like a Texan Feast – February 26
Race to the Taste – March 2
5K Wine & Beer Run – March 18
Paella Challenge – March 26
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