Photo Credit: Austria Arnold
Many people don’t think about all of the work that goes into putting on a show at Common Grounds, but the venue manager practices kindness in her busy job.
Taylor Torregrossa spends most of her time in a tight office located off the back of Common Grounds’ outdoor stage. Her workplace is appropriate for when she is behind the desk communicating with bands, but the small space is less convenient for when it acts as a greenroom for the bands that perform in the venue— musicians that Taylor brought in.
The 25-year-old spoke about the coffee shop that has fostered her career since becoming a marketing and show intern, as well as working behind the bar, then eventually taking over as venue manager and marketing director when her superior left. Torregrossa’s goal in her new position was to bring in new artists.
“We have a lot of people that we’ve worked with over the last five-plus years that keep coming back because they love it here,” Torregrossa said. “Ever since I have taken over I have really wanted to bring new artists to Common Grounds. My first year here I felt like we were stuck in a rut of bringing those same artists back over and over. They’re great shows and we’re selling tickets, so I wasn’t going to stop bringing those artists, but I wanted to bring fresh faces here.”
She has done that by spending her hours coordinating with people, and advancing shows —that means making sure artists have what they need, setting schedules and making sure there are enough people helping and working the doors. Torregrossa has brought in new faces and some big names, but people who play at Common Grounds usually want to come back again.
Seth Findley is the lead vocalist for local band, Honest Men, who just got back from a tour across Texas. Findley talked about his band’s love of the venue and explained why it is cherished by local artists as well as audience members.
“Common Grounds is a place that everyone in town knows and everyone in town loves,” Findley said. “They already know they’re going to feel comfortable going there, whereas other venues in other cities can sometimes be darker. Common Grounds is a really family friendly environment that draws in good people.”
Torregrossa takes on much of the responsibility in every event Common Grounds hosts. Being the venue manager requires a level of assertiveness that she identifies as a learning curve, yet a growing experience.
“I have not always been the most assertive person and I’m definitely what you would call a pushover. I’ve had to learn to stick to my guns and to be assertive in a customer service kind of way,” Torregrossa said.
She works to bring in bands that match the demographic of Baylor students, which she has derived by observing attendance and having her sound tech analyze the audience. Recently, Torregrossa was able to book the Grammy-winning Christian band, Switchfoot. Tickets sold out quickly and there was a line out the door of students waiting for the concert.
Freshman, Emma Kelly, said, “I was so surprised when I heard they were coming—they’re such a huge name. Common Grounds does a great job of bringing in bands that the students will like. Switchfoot was a major win; everyone I know was so hyped.”
Common Grounds has made a name for itself over the past few years thanks to the popular television show, Fixer Upper. However, Torregrossa’s work stands independently successful. Though she says she hates networking, she spends a lot of time talking with bands before the shows. Torregrossa’s co-workers and artists who spend time around her are quick to praise her.
Torregrossa’s intern Libby Billington said, “Taylor is spunky and fierce and kind, very creative, but still logical. She’s adorable – she’s so cute, so she’s the girl who loves to have fun, but is also incredibly driven and passionate…she is able to voice her opinion, but that pairs with her ability to be customer service minded. She is very kind, however she isn’t wishy washy at all.”
Artist Thomas Csorba, a Houston native who plays at Common Grounds regularly, said that Torregrossa adds to his experience playing shows there.
“Taylor is honestly one of the kindest people I know, and she’s really good at her job,” Csorba said. “It’s hard to be professional and personable, but I think she holds both of those really well. Honestly she makes playing at that place worthwhile in a way. It’s the people you deal with that make a show a good show or a bad show. She always treats artists with kindness.”
Torregrossa has always strived to practice kindness in her work. It is skill she grew into while working behind the bar during her first year at Common Grounds.
“I truly believe at the bottom of my heart that everyone should work in the service industry,” she said. “You learn so much about valuing another place’s space, and another person serving you by having bad customers and having great customers… [serving] teaches you how to care for other people in a way and teaches you to be a lot more others oriented. Kindness is the biggest impactor ever.”