We decided to try One Love Café on a slightly stormy spring evening. There’s usually a group of us, which for test-driving is a bonus. It shows how staff and facility can handle a group, and we vegetarians can get the opinions of the carnivores.
Unfortunately for me, the inside space is small (it looks like a prefab industrial building was plopped down) and the large outside space had umbrellas that don’t combat spring showers particularly well. It was crowded inside and we all pushed through the counter line for our orders, and took our metal numbers outside to tables. The sprinkles turned to a not-quite-serious rain, and I was on an end so my butt and only my butt, got wet from the drips.
Our food arrived in shifts, which can be expected at a deli-style café where the wait staff don’t hold food so the entire table is served at once. I had to listen to The Man grouse about the sliders, and how the vegetarian versions had one fewer slider that the meat ones (the prices reflected that though), and how not all vegetarians were on a diet to lose weight.
I ordered the black bean burger, cole slaw, and mac & cheese. Plus a Swamp Head beer on tap. Around the table we had sliders, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and an assortment of drinks. And we ordered dessert afterward. The overall thoughts on the food was okay to ‘this is going to get better’. It seemed pretty spotty about some dishes being great and some being kind of boring. But ingredients were fresh and you could feel the intention was there.
The burger had flavor and was slightly messy because it was homemade instead of out of a box. The bread could have been slightly more than ‘meh’. And it would have been fun to have a more exciting sauce. The pineapple-cilantro cole slaw was a huge disappointment with almost no flavor, but it was fresh and crisp. The mac & cheese was pretty good and definitely made in house.
The staff seemed to be trying hard to keep up with the crowd, and then the rain, which flushed a lot of people into the tiny inside space. One fellow seemed to be charging around with purpose and determination (and an overly serious frown), but he was getting stuff done. And the owner herself made the trip into the rain to bring some of our food.
The venue is great with a big outdoor space that will probably be more useful for evening events or hanging out. There is a small stage and on that evening a guy was singing and playing a guitar. There is a fire pit and a variety of seating. And just beyond the cordoned off patio, there is a vast grassy area for kids and dogs (yes, dogs are welcome) to play.
I want to like One Love Café because I can see the potential here. I am rooting for them to succeed and pick up some more experience with food, expand the menu, and make the outdoor space more useful during the summer (I hear they are putting in a more permanent pavilion roof thing). The place has the feel of a well-loved business where the owners have much passion but lack some confidence or experience. There’s a lot of potential here.
So I’m going to sit back, and wait and see. I would eat there again.
They are located in the back of Magnolia Parke (don’t get me started about the extra letters on names, like shoppe). They are open for lunch on Wednesday, and lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday, but seem like they are planning on expanding some hours/days. The menu seems to be adjusting from time to time. In fact, it’s on chalkboards inside the café, so I’m sure it’ll change a lot more.
One Love Café
4989 Northwest 40th Place
Gainesville, FL 32606