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Commons Company co-founders Crystal Weaver and Kyle Sollenberger have a knack for creating inspiring spaces where the community can gather around food. Their mission statement says, “We belong to and nourish our communities through inspiring concepts, thoughtful hospitality, and meaningful employment.”
In a city that takes pride in its wealth of local eateries, food enthusiasts can grab a rich cup of coffee from Passenger, order delicious catering from Merrymaker, or sit down to eat in the beautiful Prince Street Cafe in Lancaster City. From the packaging to the smiling baristas and waitstaff, intentionality and attention to detail turn customers into regulars.
“I always explain this to new hires—inspiring concepts just means that we care about how things look and feel,” says Crystal. “We make spaces nice for people because it implies that you’re important as a customer and worth it.”
Building upon the success of the flagship restaurant Prince Street Cafe, the two own and operate multiple businesses in Lancaster County. All Commons Company businesses are Certified B Corporations—companies verified to meet high social and environmental performance standards, transparency, and accountability.
Crystal handles the daily operations and management tasks, while Kyle handles most of the finances, marketing, and technology functions. While Crystal and Kyle’s roles in the company are very different, they connect around their shared value of hard work, continuous improvement, and respect for their staff. Together, they make an excellent team, and they also offer operational consulting services. Both leaders have an entrepreneurial talent they seek to replicate by supporting others with business aspirations.
So what is the secret ingredient to success in this business? Kyle and Crystal believe the key is follow-through. “It’s the visionary with the grit and the ability to do the unfun things day in and day out until you start to see progress,” explains Crystal. Even after years of owning and operating a business, there are still times when Crystal and Kyle have to jump into the more hands-on side of the company, and they are willing to do any task even if that means making sandwiches or taking out the trash.
“I feel proud of the place that we’ve created for people to thrive, because it is not easy to do. We work really hard at it, I feel like we’ve done a good job, and we’ll continue to get better,” says Crystal.
The team leaders regularly ask for feedback and arrive at creative solutions through collaboration.
“We want to treat our employees well so others can see an example of that ethos that requires a level of commitment to the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Kyle adds. “It’s not necessarily about direct competition or needing to win. It’s about working as a community of businesses to help everybody do better.”
Regulars of Commons Company spaces are filmmakers, business owners, young professionals, and locals acting as tour guides for out-of-town family members. These community hubs manifest Crystal and Kyle’s shared vision—a business that positively impacts the community.
The Reach High series is introduces you to business and nonprofit leaders who are thoughtfully innovating with a spirit of servant leadership. Brought to you by High Foundation, you can find out more about their mission to be a Bridge to Opportunity for the Lancaster community at highfoundation.org.