Evan's a Cafe and Erica's Catering owner Peter Simmons shares his philosophy.

Restaurant thriving in declining neighborhood

When it comes to the food that comes out of his kitchen, Peter Simmons does not compromise in the name of the mighty dollar.

The owner of Evan’s Cafe and Erica’s Catering in Dayton said he focuses on heart-healthy soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees.

“No beef, no pork and nothing fried,” said the retired Air Force master sergeant, who worked in nutritional medicine service. “I stay true to what I do.”

That philosophy has sustained the business since it opened in the former site of Cafe Potage in April 1999.

It has not been easy.

The Connecticut native has watched a string of other businesses near his at 1939 N. Main St. in the Santa Clara neighborhood close and get boarded up.

“The neighborhood was bustling. You wouldn’t mind putting tables out front,” Simmons recalled. “It has been a steady decline. After 5 p.m., the neighborhood takes on a different look.”

Simmons named the businesses after his children Eric, a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in business administration, and Erica, a human resources manager at Kroger Manufacturing Centennial Farms Dairy in Atlanta.

The Trotwood resident is looking to move his business, but it is not due to the neighborhood’s deterioration. He is seeking a more modern building.

He says he has gotten to know the neighborhood and has a loyal customer base that includes current and former downtown workers. His catering business also is strong with a client list that has included Trotwood City Schools, Marriage Works Ohio, Wright State University and Miami Valley Child Development Center.

“Our customers like the fact that everything is fresh,” he said. “We pride ourselves on the quality and plate presentation and getting it out as quickly as possible.”

The active member of Phillips Temple in Trotwood, Simmons said he leans on his faith during times when there are storms.

“He provides resources for me,” Simmons said. “I believe the Lord is with me.”

Contact this blogger at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

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