by Tyler Maritote
There are more than just ingredients melting in the pots at One World Café.
There are people, too, according to co-owner Sam Eid.
“It’s hard not to fall into those clichés,” he said.
The variety of people eating at One World may be just as diverse as their menu, which offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and everything from vegetarian burgers to barbeque chicken pizza.
“Our culture is so fascinated with separating and segregating things but on a basic premise everyone wants a comfy place for the neighborhood, Eid said.
“That’s the One World idea. Come in here at lunch time and there are tons of suits and ties, maybe the mayor is here, attorneys are here, students are here and professors are here.”
“The One World idea,” as Eid called it, was originally his brother, George’s idea in 1993 when Sam, George, their brother Bob and, according to the One World website, a friend bought the place.
That friend was originally Jim Fedlier, according to Sam Eid. But he was bought out early, opting to sell t-shirts instead. The Eid brothers, however, have kept that on their website as thanks to the people who have helped them.
“That’s the proverbial friend,” Sam Eid said. “It’s everyone who has helped us along the way, us and 10 employees, us and 20 employees, 60 employees and now 90.”
George Eid, the “instigator,” as his brother Sam called him, was a theater major at Bradley University in 1993 and would perform skits and mime at what was then called Coffee Classics.
When Coffee Classics announced it would be going out of business, George rallied his brothers and their “friend” together and, $15,000 later, One World was born.
George used the upstairs to start a theater company, performing live plays, and they primarily just sold coffee.
Bob Eid’s t-shirt selling business, however, in which he traveled the country, gave them other ideas.
“We also sold tie-dies, earrings, incense, other, worldly knick-knacks and some ethnic food,” Sam Eid said.
Those “knick-knacks” from around the world and Sam’s religious education – he went to a Christian college in hopes of being in the ministry before discovering that it was too limiting for him – and that philosophical outlook made One World the perfect name.
“I could create my own religion, my own philosophies,” Eid said. “I just thought, this is One World, this is our world, and no one can tell us what to do.”
Times have changed a bit since then.
George, the man who started it all, is no longer part of the business. He lives in Paris now, designing websites. The upstairs, which was once his theater, is now a multimedia business lounge with a VHS, DVD, HDTV and laptop projector complete with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound that caters up to 40 people.
In addition, One World expanded into catering in 1998 as a “simple way to deliver great food consistently to businesses and homes,” according to Eid.
Then, in 2006, One World expanded into Packard Plaza for banquets after many requests from customers to cater larger events and Bud Grieves, the owner of the Mark Twain Hotel and Packard Plaza, asked them to cater the banquet facility in exchange for a percent of the profit.
Most recently, in 2007, the café expanded their kitchen and added a new bar called the “Green Dragon Lounge,” which may sound peculiar if you’re not American history savvy.
“The Green Dragon Lounge was a tavern where Paul Revere started his midnight ride,” Eid said.
The Green Dragon Lounge and other taverns like it, in history, were meeting places of patriots, where revolutionary ideas were discussed.
“We like to think of One World like that too,” Eid said. “It’s a place where things that need to be discussed can be discussed.”
There was nothing patriotic about the kitchen expansion, though, but Eid credits it with their newly found dinner rush.
“I think we were sometimes thought of as a lunch place,” he said, “but the larger kitchen allowed us to handle our busy lunch time and also expand our dinner menu.”
Sam and Bob Eid, the remaining owners, don’t have further expansion plans. They do, however, hope they can convince the city to expand their parking lot and would like to compliment their 110 indoor seats with some outdoor seating.
“Sometimes we have room inside the restaurant but there’s no where to park,” Sam Eid said. “It would be nice for smokers to be able to eat outside, too, where they can smoke.”
With their rapid expansion from selling coffee and “knick-knacks” to a diverse sit-down menu, catering, bar and banquets in 16 years, Eid wouldn’t rule out the possibility of two One Worlds but said they aren’t planning for it.
“Maybe if we could find another location near a college campus,” he said.
Even though One World’s prices are among the highest near Bradley University they are comparable to that of Applebee’s, Denny’s and T.G.I Fridays, according to Eid.
However, the co- owner and founder believes his fresh ingredients, ethnic flavors and diverse menu make his restaurant and those franchises more than just One World apart.
“It’s traditional food, with ethnic flavors,” he said.