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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


On What Grounds brings coffee, chocolate together

(Feb. 19, 2015) A couple for more than 14 years, Denise Tolson and Dana Gottloeb took their relationship to the next level when they opened On What Grounds earlier this year.
The shop, located inside Maryland Wine Bar at 103 North Main Street, was formerly an attorney’s office.
“That’s where we got the name,” Tolson said. “We also liked the design of the legal scale that’s our logo.”
Wine Bar owner Deborah Everett, who first suggested the couple open the chocolate shop/café last summer, was a regular patron of Tolson’s and her homemade, hand-dipped chocolates.
Gottloeb, meanwhile, owned and operated the Coffee Beanery inside the Centre at Salisbury Mall for 22 years.
“The mall is kind of dying and it was just time to go,” he said. “Deborah’s suggestion of opening a coffee and a chocolate shop made sense with both of our experiences.”
The next step, Gottloeb said, was finding the right bean.
“As a franchisee at the Coffee Beanery, I used to always think that we had phenomenal beans, which they do, but then this company called Intelligentsia in Chicago sent me samples and it was like a whole ‘nother level,” Gottloeb said. “Their beans are just awesome. I did try some relatively local beans to try to keep it more local, but they just couldn’t compare.”
Gottloeb said Intelligentsia is part of the so-called “third wave” of coffee, buying from Direct Trade certified growers and using a “pour-over” method.
“It’s really fresh-brewed into an individual cup,” he said. “It’s a lot more handcrafted type of coffee, and it’s really about spending the money to get really high-grade, high-quality beans.”
On What Grounds uses several methods in its brewing, including pour-over, aeropress and traditional electronic drip, and offers flavored, iced, frozen and espresso coffees.
Along with chocolates, Tolson bakes muffins, scones and three kinds of bagels fresh each morning.
“The people that live in the apartments upstairs think it’s horrible that we’re here, because the smell just wafts into their apartment every morning,” Tolson quipped.
The shop also sells breakfast sandwiches all day, along with “grab and go” lunch sandwiches.
“It’s really been a fun experience,” Tolson said. “This town is a great place to open a business and all the local merchants have been really great. Hopefully in the future we keep getting bigger and better, and maybe look into offering another locations.”
On What Grounds is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information call 410-629-1022 or visit