Mission Waco bridges social classes in cafe

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Walking into the World Cup cafe, one receives an interesting outlook of the locals and strangers in this hustling and bustling joint.

It is an uplifting surprise to see upper class citizens chatting with the homeless or low-income regulars of the Waco eatery. They talk and laugh as if they have known each other for years and wipe out the stereotype of people only interacting with those in the same social groups. None of that matters here. What does is community.

World Cup Cafe is a product of nonprofit giant, Mission Waco. The organization that started in the 1990s has five other buildings, near the unique restaurant.

Located in the “poorest neighborhood in Central Texas,” said World Cup administrator Shannon Williams,  Mission Waco desires to redefine fellowship by bringing people of all incomes together through a restaurant, a theater, youth programs and much more.

Diving back into history, the neighborhood was once occupied by a predominantly wealthy class in the 1950s and 1960s. But the area started changing for the worse when a mass exodus occurred.

The elegance and high class swiftly left, and a sense of darkness quickly arrived through several bars, clubs and an adult theater in the 1970s. By the ‘80s, the local government had enough and legally condemned the area. With no stores active, all that remained were desolate, empty buildings.

In the 1990s, Executive Director of Mission Waco, Jimmy Dorrell, saw potential in the crime-ridden neighborhood. With a big heart and open mind, Dorrell purchased those buildings and transformed them into a variety of positive businesses.

As time passed, the neighborhood became vibrant once again. The restaurant works in conjunction with the remodeled theater.

Mission Waco uses the duo to host entertaining events in the theatre and supply a delicious meal made with local ingredients before or after the program.

The cafe is more than an eatery. It builds community in an area associated with danger and homelessness.

Assistant Director Kathy Wise said, “It takes away the stigma … It lets them know this is a viable place.”

Through prayer, dedication, time and effort, the restaurant joins people of all classes and races together, hopefully to erase negative thinking and substitute it with enlightenment.

Bringing people together through good food is not the only agenda. The award-wining business has an exquisite small market centered on fair trade. Therefore, not only can guests dine but also shop for a good cause.

The products come from countries across the globe and range from beautiful, colorful jewelry to creative and authentic purses, bags, coasters and even kitchen ware. All the proceeds go the makers of those products and help provide a legitimate wage.

One of the products that has received national attention is the Ecuadorian jewelry made from tagua nuts found in Peru. The local ingredient is used as beads to make accessories. The female owner of the business uses the profit to help her village back home, formerly supported by drug money. The popular company, Belartes, made it into Oprah Winfrey’s magazine.

World Cup Cafe is just one of the places that carries the unique and equally gorgeous jewelry.

The diner is a magnificent restaurant that serves more than just good soul food. It serves the neighborhood and Waco through excellent programs, events and, most importantly, by means of the gospel.

Author: Natasha Christian

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