Jayson Spain, a Ground-A-Bout regular, came to understand the tradition of Stammtisch while studying German in college and during a brief study abroad in Austria. Little did he know then that his future held a lively, close-knit Stammtisch at The Ground-A-Bout in Jackson, MO.
According to Jayson, a stammtisch is a regulars table where every-day patrons, owners, and employees all hang out and share their lives. In German culture, it’s an honor to be a part of a stammtisch. As Jayson became a part of the family at The Ground-A-Bout, he said it popped into his head one day that this was a stammtisch, only at The Ground-A-Bout it’s not limited to a single table, but a term that applies to the group as a whole.
With a Lavender Honey latte in hand, I sat down with Jayson at The Ground-A-Bout to learn more about this tradition and how it’s lived out through the people of the coffee shop. He’s been frequenting the coffee shop for about a year now, and after having the epiphany that he had become a part of a stammtisch, he asked co-owner, Bob Schooley, if he had heard of the term. Knowing there’s a lot of German heritage in the region, he thought maybe Bob had heard about the tradition, but he hadn’t, so Jayson explained. Immediately Bob agreed that was exactly the kind of community that had formed at The Ground-A-Bout.
The best thing about this stammtisch is that everyone is welcome. The only requirement is that you have to come to the shop to enjoy conversation, shenanigans, and of course a good cup of Joe. By the end of our first meet-up, Jayson and the barista on duty were welcoming me to be a part of the group. All I had to do was come back.
The current group consists of people of all ages and backgrounds. Walk into the shop at any moment and you’ll likely find a few of them hanging out. There’s Cody that comes in with his wife, Meghan, and kiddos, Zeke and Crosby. There’s a guy named Steve who sometimes brings a fiddle, and always a story. There are Bob and Serena who own the joint and bring the coffee and permission to be yourself (even if that means standing on your head in the hallway).There’s Jayson who brings infectious energy. There’s Zach, there’s Kyrstin, Autumn and Ashley the baristas, there’s Pastor David, George, Bob’s mom, and there’s Alex Elfrink your local State Farm agent. The list goes on.
Jayson said the regulars have all organically gravitated to each other, and have become like an extended family. On any given day they could be talking, picking on each other, and planning out the course of their days together, which now often includes each other. Two hours will pass without knowing, and then Bob offers to order a pizza or someone will run to Tractor’s and ask if anyone else wants takeout. The group recently planned a fundraiser for a local movie production,All Nite Skate, that raised over $3,000. All the details were hashed out over coffee and food at the shop, and Jayson made sure to point out that there was even a conga line.
Jayson explains that the stammtisch all feel a collective pride in the place and genuinely want to see The Ground-A-Bout succeed. They look out for each other and are willing to help one another with anything. About this time, Jayson hollers across the room at the barista. “Ashley, if you needed help moving a sofa, who would you call…us right?”
Ashley walks over to the table we’re at and pulls up a chair. “This place is like the coffee house on Friends.” Ashley and Jayson pick on each other as she comes up with the name of the fictional coffee shop from Friends, Central Perk. She says she immediately felt welcomed when she started working at The Ground-A-Bout, and that she often stays long after her shift is over to hang out with the crew, adding that it’s one of her favorite places to be.
Jayson sums it all up by saying that The Ground-A-Bout is a warm, inviting environment and the stammtisch is a group that’s easy to break into. Everyone is welcome exactly the way they are.