RICHMOND — If you visit Keith and Jenn Frost’s new coffeehouse, Higher Grounds, please tip generously. Every cent will go to a local charity.
“Instead of taking tips, we’re going to pick a charity a month,” Keith explained.
Higher Grounds, on Kingstown Road in Wyoming, opened on June 9, and the Frost’s first charity is Alexandria’s Foundation, an organization that raises money and awareness for children’s pulmonary hypertension.
“This first organization was near and dear to my heart, but in the future, as we move on, we would like to have people apply. We love Chariho organizations. We’d love to be able to do that,” Jenn said.
“It’s a for-profit company that’s giving back to the community,” Keith added. “We’re going to make enough money to supply our needs, but anything above and beyond that, why wouldn’t we give it away?”
The Frosts have lived in Richmond for nine years, and their two children attend the Chariho schools. Keith, a former nursing home manager, is originally from Cumberland, and Jenn, who came from Warwick, was a teaching assistant at Chariho Middle School.
The couple took over the space, leased from the owner of the Lickety Splits ice cream shop next door, last November, and renovated it to create three inviting rooms with tables and comfortable arm chairs. The coffee and food are the best they say they could find. The coffee is a special blend made for Higher Grounds by Bob Mastin, the owner of Custom House Coffee in Middletown.
“We want to be a business of excellence, and we want to partner with businesses of excellence,” Keith said. “He is meticulous with the beans that he gets, he roasts them a specific way, we got a delivery on Saturday, and our coffee was roasted Friday. People coming in say, ‘Wow, this coffee is great!’”
Jenn bakes almost all the muffins and pastries from scratch. She’s already famous for her peanut butter-chocolate granola bars.
The Frosts had to clear one major hurdle before they proceeded with their coffeehouse plan: getting approval from their children.
“We decided that we wanted to do this, but we didn’t hit the ‘go’ button until our kids were on board,” Keith explained. “Summertime will be a little different for them, because they’ll be here with us, but that’s one of the reasons why we wanted them on board, because we knew that it was going to affect them.”
“Yeah, we knew it would be such a change for all of us,” Jenn added. “They’re here after school every day and then weekend they’ll be here, but we have so many friends and family who will take them out.”
The Frosts encourage people to sit as long as they wish, using the free WiFi or playing one of the board games.
“Definitely, my heart is for this community, because I live here and work here,” Jenn said.
“I would love to see it as a community hub for teens, like a safe place where they can hang out and parents don’t have to worry.”
The Frosts plan to offer live entertainment a couple of nights a week to attract more young people.
“There’s no place in town for teens to go on a Friday and Saturday night,” Keith said.
Higher Grounds already has some regulars. Richmond Emergency Management Agency Director Joe Arsenault and his son Caleb, 15, said they were happy to support a locally owned business.
“They’re town people. That’s what we want to see,” Arsenault said.
Jeff Bartlett said he loved Jenn’s banana bread.
“I came here because my good friends opened a coffee shop,” he said. “I’ll continue to come here because their stuff is good.”