Nonprofit restaurant let patrons ‘pay it forward’

• One Bistro is a nonprofit restaurant with a unique concept of only charging what a customer can afford and allowing those who can’t pay to work as servers, or dishwashers at the restaurant. After a high-flying career working in restaurants rated in the top 100 nationally and serving famous customers like Billy Joel, Chris Collingsworth and Peter Frampton, founder Robert Adamson changed course in 2012 and started a restaurant with his wife, Kim, that serves all customers with dignity regardless of ability to pay. Patrons are treated to a menu that includes healthy entrees displayed in a pleasing manner that are usually found at pricier restaurants. With an emphasis on fresh locally grown foods, Adamson is also hoping to change the way that people in the community eat.

What the business does: Using the Pay it Forward concept, customers are encouraged to pay the suggested reasonable price for the meal and then leave a tip in a jar that collects money used for outreach projects. Adamson also mentors individuals striving to get businesses off the ground and even has a micro business run by Melissa Mueller, called 2 Cups Coffee and Bakery, operating against a side-wall of the restaurant.

Although not affiliated with a church, Adamson puts an emphasis on the social relationships fostered in the restaurant that help people with more than just food.

He is partnering with the Montgomery County Food Bank to provide fresh locally grown produce to local residents who lack transportation.

From 5 – 7 p.m., on Wednesday nights, One Bistro has a community meal that welcomes everyone and is served by volunteers who sign up in advance like businesses, or organizations.

Regular volunteers gain important skills that can be used for a resume and a culinary apprenticeship program helps prepare candidates for culinary programs.

“God brings me volunteers to work here, but we need corporate and church support,” said Adamson, who has a full-time sous chef and mentors future Pay It Forward restaurant managers like Ann Fuehrer, who teaches at Miami University, but plans to open a restaurant in the future after retiring.

How the business started:

Adamson learned to cook by watching his grandmother, who cooked for a school and lived next door to him. After graduating from Richmond High School in 1984, he studied in the culinary program at Cincinnati State College under master chef John Kinsella.

While working as a chef at The Precinct, a renowned restaurant in Cincinnati, Adamson also volunteered at a soup kitchen where he began to develop the idea for a restaurant where all are served with dignity.

Customer comment: “I think it’s a wonderful mission — the atmosphere is very relaxed and comfortable and the food is top notch,” said Chris Wantz, a frequent customer from Miami Twp. “Robert is a tremendous and very gifted chef and he’s always looking for ways to help people. He’s found a way to combine his two passions of mission work and being a chef. He serves the same caliber of food that he made when he worked for expensive restaurants.”

Contact information: One Bistro is open 11 a.m.—2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday. 2 Cups Coffee & Bakery, a micro business located inside the restaurant is open 7 a.m.—2 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.

For more information, call (937) 859-1165, or visit

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