*This story first appeared in The Budget’s April 11, 2018 Local Edition. Outdated information has been removed.
By Beverly Keller
For the past 15 years, New Grounds Cafe in Walnut Creek has evolved to meet the needs of the community it serves, one order at a time. Staying true to its mission statement, New Grounds offers a safe place to connect for young adults, reach out to the community and challenge each other in relationships with Jesus, all while giving the glory to God each and every day.
“That’s what we do,” explained Manager Neil Hostetler. “We connect with people where they are. We meet people from other countries and communities, all right here in this place.”
Hostetler explained that the work of New Grounds is far beyond a coffee and sandwich for breakfast or pizza and wings to eat with friends while watching a game. “It is relationships. I want people to see what God is doing here,” he said. “Without God and His work here in these walls, we would not be where we are today. This is a warm, inviting atmosphere that allows for relationships to grow.”
Relationships are very important as it is estimated that between 80 – 100 couples who met there have gotten married.
Hostetler’s journey to New Grounds is one that started several years ago. He had a good job at a local manufacturing company but, as he progressed, his time with people, interacting and impacting was lessened. “I wasn’t fulfilling my need to connect with others,” Hostetler shared. “I kept thinking about how awesome it would be to reach out and connect with others, to be a light to someone. So I started praying about it.”
Those prayers led Hostetler, a graduate of Garaway High School, to the doors of New Grounds. “God led me here,” he said. “It has allowed me to reconnect with people and get to know the people of Walnut Creek. To my regulars, I’ve become a friend. But to God, I’m fulfilling my purpose and connecting with others, sharing His vision and impacting those around me in a positive way.”
One of the ways that New Grounds is unique is that at shift change each day, the group prays together. “We pray for each other and we pray for God to be with us,” Hostetler explained. “We want Him to help us be the light that others need either in a friendly smile or an understanding that they are in a safe place.”
New Grounds offers a place that has many features including meeting rooms for church groups and Bible studies but is also a place for teenagers to hang out, gather and be together. “We want the community know that this is a place where they can be themselves and come to knowing they will be safe,” Hostetler said.
He shared that growing up, he felt like a black sheep of sorts, and that continued for many years. However, God changed his life. “The Lord changed my life in a way that I didn’t know before with a hope beyond understanding,” Hostetler said. “The hope I have now has not faded. It has only grown stronger. I now have a heart for those black sheep.”
Hostetler welcomes everyone to New Grounds to check out the facility and its vibe. “We are here six days a week until 11 p.m.,” he said. “Our doors are open. The food is good. The coffee is excellent and the wifi is on. We want to be a beacon of hope for others.”
As a way to continue serving the community, New Grounds is in the process of adding a hitching rail. “There will be a place out back to tie up the horse and buggy,” Hostetler shared.
The vision from the beginning was to create an open and inviting environment that God could use to bless others to allow them to connect to each other and, ultimately, to Him. “God is still at work doing this,” Hostetler shared. “He has always been faithful and has never let us down.”
After 15 years of work, there are needs that have come up that must be addressed as some equipment has been worn out and must be replaced.
Immediate needs for New Grounds include a single-stage kitchen heating and cooling unit that will cost $6,744 to replace a unit that is 20 years old. A two-stage main dining area heating and cooling unit that is 28 years old also needs to be replaced at a cost of $8,326, including labor. A crane would be needed at a cost of $350.
On the food side of things, a pizza press ($3,800) and double air-pot brewer ($1,250) are also needed as soon as possible.
Other equipment needed in the near future includes: an espresso grinder ($1,425), signage ($3,391), an espresso machine – $6,320 and prep cooler ($1,750).
“We are here to serve others,” Hostetler explained. “We want others to see what God is doing here on a daily basis. Our inside has changed and grown. We offer breakfast. We have become more than just a place for kids.” Hostetler noted that the cafe hosts at least 20 groups a month at no charge for Bible study groups and worship times. “We are reaching people today who maybe haven’t found a community elsewhere,” he said. “God is at work here, and that work is good.”
“This is a God thing,” explained Ivan Miller, Director of the board that runs the facility. “We are here and able to do this because of a generous and supportive community of businesses, churches and individuals.”