By Brandon Martin
Coffee connoisseurs have a new hip spot to mainline their caffeine cravings at The Ground Floor, which officially opened May 1.
The coffee shop, located on E. Main Street in the historic Holt Building, held a soft opening on April 30.
Josh Blancas, owner, said he is hoping his business will fill a much-needed cup in the city.
“We have family friends that live in Martinsville and we’ve visited several times,” he said. “As we visited Martinsville, we always noticed that there are gaps here. There’s gaps in the community for gathering places and places for people to come to connect with friends and family.”
Even in his early days in Houston, Blancas said he was driven by his entrepreneurial spirit.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business,” Blancas said. “I always said that if I did that then a coffee shop would be at the top of my list.”
For Blancas, coffee shops are much more than convenient places to get an energy boost.
“I think there’s just something special about coffee shops,” he said. “It’s a unique business that has the opportunity to make someone’s day. Unlike something like a grocery store or maybe an electronic store that is more transactional, a coffee shop allows you to experience the community and get to know people.”
As he contemplated his business idea more, Blancas found that Martinsville was the right fit for his vision.
“I always wanted to find the right town to start a coffee shop in, and this was kind of the perfect opportunity. It was the right time and the right place. I was ready to make a move,” Blancas said. “As we were getting ready to make a move in the summer of 2020, we started thinking about what could make the biggest impact. We wanted to move to a smaller town, we wanted to move to a town where we felt we could make that difference.”
There were a few things that made Martinsville ideal, he said.
“Martinsville has incredible people,” Blancas said. “Martinsville has the right size, the right feel, and I just think this is the right time.”
However, this wasn’t something that was readily apparent to everyone in Blancas’ inner circle.
“As we’ve moved here, people have asked us ‘why Martinsville?’ My answer is why not,” Blancas said. “I think Martinsville can be whatever we want it to be. I think it has unlimited potential. The sky’s the limit. We want to be a small part in helping that revitalization happen.”
To collaborate, Blancas connected with Lee Prillaman, president of UPtown Partnership.
“We worked with Lee Prillaman who is the owner of the Holt building. He’s one of the bigger reasons that we moved here,” Blancas said. “He originally sold us on the vision of what Martinsville could be.”
After some coaxing by Prillaman, Blancas said he fell in love with the Holt Building.
“As we came and looked at the Holt building, we saw unlimited potential in the location, the size, and the historic nature of the building,” he said. “We were instantly sold because the building has a lot of charm and history.”
Prillaman wasn’t the only friendly face that impacted Blancas’ decision.
“One of the first things we did was we started talking to the City of Martinsville and the Chamber of Commerce. We got tremendous buy-in from them upfront,” he said. “The friends we made while researching everything were a huge part of us deciding to move here because it’s not like what you would find in a bigger area where you have to jump through all of these hoops before anything happens. We were able to sit down with real people and talk through our plans. That made all the difference in the world.”
Buoyed by that warm reception, Blancas began thinking of other ways to fulfill the city’s needs with his business.
“For me, coffee is great but it’s not the goal,” he said. “The goal for us has always been people and community. We thought a coffee shop would be a good way to facilitate that. We also saw several other opportunities in Martinsville.”
To that end, Blancas left space in the coffee shop for other endeavors.
“We noticed there weren’t many places in Martinsville for people to get higher-end gifts,” Blancas said. “We noticed there weren’t an abundant amount of meeting places either.”
Both needs were filled, with a general store and conference room added to the shop’s layout.
“Several pockets of our shop are aimed at providing a central hub for the community,” he said. “One of the phrases that I’ve been throwing around is I want this to be the living room of Martinsville. I want people to come and feel like they are at home and that they belong.”
As customers start rolling in, Blancas said the menu is bountiful with new items to try.
“We are pretty proud of our Chai Tea Latte,” he said. “We have some signature lattes as well like our Campfire Latte which is amazing. We also have some really good Frappuccinos, but even better, we have people that make them with a smile on their face.”
If the drinks keep the customers coming, Blancas is confident that The Ground Floor will be the first of many successes in Martinsville’s economic revitalization.