Julie Sill


The Common Grounds Gourmet Espresso Bar, Hog Haus Brewing Co.


Julie Sill

Good fortune has followed misfortune in Julie Sill's career in the restaurant game. Sill, 32, began waiting tables after a blown-out knee kept her from playing soccer at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where she was given a full athletic scholarship.

After a few years waiting tables at various Fayetteville haunts, Sill got a management gig at Emerald Coast. Then in 1997, when Emerald Coast was going out of business, Sill had the chance to rent the space and open a restaurant of her own, The Common Grounds Gourmet Espresso Bar.

In 2004, when Ozark Brewing Co. went out of business, friends and customers urged her to take it over.

"We had a lot of community support because they didn't want (a corporate entity) to come in," Sill said.

So she opened Hog Haus Brewing Co. in the old brewery's place, just four doors down from Common Grounds. And with the help of her business partner, Kari Larson, both restaurants have become veritable Dickson Street institutions.

"The customers keep coming back because they know I'm not going to serve something that's bad," Sill said.