One World Catering and Café

Photos by Kaleb Johnson

Photos by Kaleb Johnson

by Bill More

What a delight to sit down once again with Sam Eid, age 49,  owner of One World Catering and Café at Main and University in Peoria. http://www.oneworld-cafe.com/  Sam and his brother are full owners and they have been providing unique, varied, and different dishes at this spot since 1993 --- and they have location, location, location. They bought out the previous owner for about $5000 but there was little left of his business. They wanted the location! Even though the intersection had been under construction for a longer period than they had hoped, business remains very strong, and they have a long, long list of regulars. 

Sam got into the ‘food business’ as early as age 12 at his family’s independent grocery on the south side of Chicago. He learned every aspect of the food, the presentation, the sales, the suppliers, and much more. Enlisted into the business early he devoured the education and it still pays off today. He started his own giant burrito store, Baja Burrito, in Chicago, and opened a similar Crazy Burrito in Peoria just after opening One World. Crazy Burrito has since closed and Sam spends all his time and energies at One World. 

When One World opened the hot foodie trends in the Peoria area were Gloria Jeans Coffee, Bagels of ALL kinds with melt sandwiches and the like, and muffins and scones were huge. One World capitalized on the trend selling bagel sandwiches of all sort, the kinds you could not find anywhere else in Central Illinois, and the business took off. 

They work very, very hard at what they do (you will see this theme with every successful restaurant since it is not for the faint of heart). The staff is regularly trained --- not just when first hired, but often during their working career at One World. They hire folks that are people-oriented, as is Sam, and it really shows. They want the staff to like the customer and the customer to like the staff, trust the staff, and keep coming back often. 

He has had some employees for 10-12 and 14 years. They treat customers as PEOPLE, not robots. 

Something is working since they have had a successful run for more than 20 years. 

One World counts among their awards a number of Viewer’s Choice from WHOI, and a Best of the Midwest Independent Casual Restaurant, one they have won for 3 years. 

Sam sees some hot trends in the business now as well.

Trendy Italian Sodas with fresh fruits, bitters, more adult and sophisticated flavors, and he is strong in his feeling that Mediterranean, Persian, Turkish, and Moroccan foods will be big, big, big. Sharable foods will be very popular. One World’s menu will reflect these trends too. They are working on Signature Cocktails with fresh fruits, cane syrup and flavored syrups, and more creative ideas to appeal to their growing customer base. 

Craft beers, huge now, will continue to grow. The Farm-To-Table movement will also continue on, but Sam sees the ‘organic’ movement fading a bit. 

He admits there is a certain Grace or Karma in this business, as with many others. 

Sam is a Philosophy graduate and approaches his life and his business with a more intellectual approach as a result. If he has any disappointments it is that the labor force has a certain entitlement attitude --- they simply do not want to work, and on occasion, he finds it difficult to find people that appreciate what it takes to work. 

The next trend for One World will most likely include roof top dining, a better variety of foods, drinks, with Signature Cocktails, and food specials with unique and different flavors.