World Cup Cafe Serves Coffee With An Economic Bridge. Photo by Caitlin R. Giddens. Copyright 2012.
Texas Business reports: In this café, customers who count change to pay for their coffee sit with guests wearing business suits. These customers seem unequal, with their differing bank accounts and level of education. But what brings them together, equalizing a life with food stamps to one with luxury cars, is a simple cup of coffee.
World Cup Café began six years ago to bridge the gap between the social classes of Waco. As residents of Waco will attest, the green and gold aura of Baylor does not stretch to the entire city. Northern Waco houses residents living below the poverty line. These families struggle to exist in a city that often looks the other way.
To address Waco’s poverty issue and create opportunities for the poor, Jimmy Dorrell directs Mission Waco. And to further bridge the gap between the poor and affluent classes in Waco, Mission Waco supports World Cup Café.
Dorrell sees the café’s success as more than the bottom dollar. He works to provide encouragement to the neighborhood surrounding 15th and Colcord Avenue. And with the restaurant’s use of fair trade coffee and promotion of free trade goods, World Cup Café supports a global mission as well.
“We began with three purposes, mostly to bring economic development to the area and rebuild broken walls,” Dorrell said. “No one else was interested in investing in the area because it’s a bad part of town. The second goal was to bring west Waco to the café with good food. The third was to provide job training. We’ve had people work here that were homeless and we’ve had high school students.”
The cafe prides itself in offering jobs to those who need it most. Joseph Jorgenson has worked at the World Cup Cafe since 2009, and held nearly every position in the restaurant. He applied to work as a server at World Cup Café after graduating from high school because a friend told him he would like the people. His friend was right.
“The people who work here is what keeps me coming back every day,” Jorgenson said. “Now I do everything, from cooking to dishwashing to working in the front. We don’t make a profit but we have to keep the business running.”
For the past two years, Jorgenson has witnessed World Cup Café’s mission become a reality. He describes the union of successful businessmen and struggling Wacoans as “an everyday thing.”
“People come in that can’t afford a cup of coffee, and then others come in that pay for everyone’s meal,” he said. “When people see what our mission is, they put in donations and have business meetings here. People intentionally meet here so they can support us.”
Shannon Williams, an administrator at the café, says they intentionally hire local Wacoans to work alongside Baylor students. World Cup Cafe looks for employees who feel passionate about Mission Waco’s efforts to alleviate poverty and unite the community.
“Our overlying mission is not only promoting economic development for the community,” Williams said. “We want people to learn about Mission Waco. So we hire people with a heart for Mission Waco.”
Dorrell says it has not been easy supporting a business that works to bridge the economic gap in Waco. World Cup Café struggled to keep the lights on for the first two years. But Williams feels encouraged by the growth she’s witnessed within the past two years.
“We’ve seen 100% growth in the past two years,” Williams said. “We’ve seen people come into the café who haven’t been to this part of town for a long time. We view World Cup as a gateway to connect people to Mission Waco and Waco as a whole.”
The menu at World Cup Café includes hearty breakfast options, Southern favorites like chicken fried steak and meatloaf and specialty coffees. All of the coffee is fair trade, supporting the café’s global mission.
“World Cup is wetting the appetite for the community,” Joyce Brammer, development assistant and volunteer coordinator at Mission Waco, said. “This business brings people to this part of town, and educates them of World Cup and Mission Waco’s purpose. Now people are interested in what we’re doing on this block, and also what we’re doing for the city of Waco. And what we’re doing globally with fair trade."
Brammer has seen World Cup Café grow from a struggling restaurant to a hotspot for business meetings and Baylor functions. She believes this attraction to the restaurant stems from the community’s knowledge of the World Cup Café mission.
“Now there are a number of cars circling around and looking for a place to park,” Brammer said. “We're trying to convince Waco that businesses can thrive in this part of the city. People may not realize what World Cup Cafe or Mission Waco is, but you can create awareness through someone's appetite. We bring them in and show people the uniqueness of this area, from the food to the fair trade market that supplements someone’s livelihood in a third world village.”