Happy Birthday, Global Café! Crosstown Restaurant Celebrates One Year
Ed. Note: Contributor Veena is here to tell us about one of her favorite restaurants in town, which celebrates its first birthday this weekend, August 16th and 17th, with food and drink specials. Read her original article about the Crosstown Concourse eatery Global Café here.
One year after opening their doors, Global Café shows no signs of slowing down. Even at 2pm on Friday a steady crowd flows in and out, some dining in and staying a while and others picking up to-go orders as they continue on with their days.
I see people sitting together at the community table and speaking to people they’ve only just met, sharing laughs over bowls of chili and plates of kabobs.
Global Café has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat in Memphis, and I am not alone in my sentiments. Every time I’m there I see people coming and going and manager Juan Viramontes echoes my observations, noting that the community has rallied around both the food on offer and the Café’s dedication to being a welcoming and inclusive space for people of all backgrounds.
He notes a steady balance of both repeat customers and people coming for the first time and says that his expectations for their first year have been blown away.
Juan’s biggest takeaway from Global Café’s first year has been the incredible community response and how that has impacted the lives of the chefs. When I spoke with him last week he continually reiterated how much chefs Ibti and Fayha have grown over the past year and the connections they have made with both regular and new customers. He is excited to see them continue to excel as the Café enters its second year.
Earlier this summer crowd-favorite chef Indra moved out of state with her family, and as much as we all miss her and her delicious momos, chef Pancho’s Venezuelan delicacies have brought a lot of new excitement to the food hall. I tried some of his stuffed arepas on my last visit, and they were delicious.
This weekend is the Café’s one-year anniversary, and everyone is invited to celebrate on Saturday and Sunday.
New menu items are being added at both the Sudanese and Syrian stalls as part of a quarterly initiative to include more seasonal recipes to the menus. I am especially excited about Chef Ibti’s Blue Nile River Salad and look forward to trying it out soon.
The anniversary celebration will also include drink specials: with the purchase of any food item you can get a 99-cent Paloma (for the over-21 set) or a 99-cent Hibiscus Tea as thanks for supporting Global Café’s mission to build bridges to connect people through the universal language of food. As Juan says, “Our customers empower us to show up every day, and this is a small way we can thank them for their support.”
The anniversary weekend will focus on celebrating Sudanese and Syrian cuisines to give the Venezuelan stall a little more time to get their bearings, but be on the lookout for some specials from them in the coming months.
When you attend the anniversary celebrations you will also notice some new art on the walls. Just this week a new series of photographs of refugees by local photographer Emily Frazier were hung, including portraits of some of the Café’s chefs and employees.
Throughout our conversation Juan mentioned over and over how phenomenal the community has been at supporting the Café, both by eating there and by spreading the word. Local media outlets have been writing about the Café since it opened.
One couple in Green Bay, Wisconsin, heard about it on their local NPR station and drove over 750 miles to try it out. A recent US citizen celebrated her new nationality with a family meal there. In just one year it has become a staple in our community, and Juan and the Global Café family look forward to strengthening that relationship for years to come.
The other thread that ran throughout our conversation was the concept that everyone who works there is part of the Global Café family. Everyone works as a team, they share all products, and they support one another whenever needed.
Juan noted that often chefs will make extra rice when they see that someone else has run out. They will pitch in when they see someone has a long line. They are working together to make sure the entire Café is successful because, as Juan says, they “are all in this together”.
Celebrate Global Café’s One Year Anniversary:
1350 Concourse Ave., Suite 157
Memphis, TN 38104
Saturday, August 17, 11am-10pm
Sunday, August 18, 11am-9pm