Thursday, March 11, 2010

Athens Duo Expands Rising Business

by Danielle Zeisler

Christine Hughes wasn’t born in Athens, but she’s assimilated like the best of them.

Drawn to Athens by a treasure-trail of business success stories, Christine, along with her business partner Bob O’Neil, moved to the area roughly 10 years ago. They didn’t start by launching a restaurant, though. Instead, they sold bread. They sold so much bread that they had enough money to start their first business together, Village Bakery & Café, about eight years ago.

With the Village Bakery, Christine and Bob get to flex their organic muscles, reaching to the Athens Farmer’s Market for the majority of the restaurant’s ingredients. What doesn’t come from there comes from other farms in the area, and making an impact through serving natural food is something their adamant about. It says it right on the menu: “What you choose WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!” Joined to the Bakery is the Undercover Market, a small bazaar of local meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, along with miscellaneous trinkets such as mugs, canteens and tea-brewing products.

From the sprouts of Village Bakery grew a burgeoning organic empire. Just six years later, the partners opened the Della Zona pizza shop. The decision was simple: the two loved to make and eat homemade pizza and they wanted to share that love with the Athens community. The two restaurants are located next to one another and the two facades combine, each with hand-drawn looking business signs, to form an imposing block of natural business.

The pair continues to build its family of businesses, opening the Catalyst Café a little over a year ago. For the most part the café abandons the food aspect of the pair’s previous operations and instead focuses on espresso-based drinks, smoothies and sweets. And though these businesses are impressive on their own, what’s more impressive are the duo’s aspirations.

Their future plan is to start their own small, local farm that can produce food for their restaurants. Their goal of “Striving for the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – measuring the success of our business based on our social, environmental, and financial impact in the local and global communities,” makes these partners a one-of-a-kind duo, and an influential part of the Athens and Southeast Ohio communities.

1 comment:

Renae said...

Congratulations Christine!! Very nice article!
Al & Renae Scheiderer