It’s New York street food seasoned with southern comfort; philly cheesesteaks piled high with the works, and served with sweet tea on the side. Mr. Everything Café is a state unto itself.
Located on Martin Luther King Drive near the Atlanta University Center (AUC) campuses, the restaurant is a pillar of the Westside Atlanta community. Sandwiched between a humble barbershop and hair salon, it is clear that the “Home of the world famous grilled chicken,” according to mreverythingcafe.blogspot.com, has found its home.
“The owners are from Harlem and Queensbridge, New York. They came down here in 1993, and opened up across the street from where we’re located now,” General Manager David Taveres said. “They had a little small shop, probably no bigger than the front cashier area now.” “They started off with two hot plates, cold sandwiches and 50 cent franks to the AUC students and city workers, and one thing led to another.”
More than 20y years later, Mr. Everything is more than 50 cent franks and sandwiches. With a menu that boasts a variety of sandwiches, rice plates, seafood, steak and chicken, the café promises to cater to every palette. With their culinary roots deeply embedded in street food, one habit that Mr. Everything has not strayed from is fresh to order meals.
Although it is not quite farm to table, all of the vegetables are fresh and imported from local farmer’s market, a fact that speaks to the health conscious and community centric café.
“Everything that we try to do has some kind of health benefit to it,” Taveres said.
The evolved street food menu includes the traditional Philly Cheesesteak, but with an unconventional twist. Instead of sandwiching the cheesy, juicy steak between two deli slices, many customers choose to get what the restaurants dubs “the healthy” alternative: laid over a bed of white rice.
“Mr. Everything just offers such a variety to the neighborhood, and I love going because I know I can’t get the food anywhere else,” Kayla Oriyomi, AUC student and Spelman sophomore said. “No one else would think to have a philly on rice, and that’s the kind of creativity and unique food that sets them apart.”
A Family Matter: Keeping the community together
The unique quality of their food is indicative of not only the thought that goes into its preparation, but the care. The family-owned business is small and is run by a tight knit staff of cooks, crew and management. Taveres, is the son-in-law of the owner, Monica Smith. And even though everyone else may not be directly related in the traditional familial sense, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re from around the area, you’re family.
“If you know the area, you know we’re around the AUC and The Bluff,” Taveres said. “So we kind of merge everybody together in a nice environment, with good food and friendly service. We just bring good food and good people.”
For those who aren’t aware, The Bluff is not some kind of natural attraction or sightseeing landmark. Rather, it is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Atlanta, especially with the rising drug circulation occurring. According to Atlanta Detox, Heroin is cheap there and drug users from all over visit The Bluff.The neighborhood borders Bankhead and the two neighborhoods comprise Zone 1, the infamous land of trap: its music and its drugs.
And Mr. Everything finds itself on the neutral grounds between the two starkly different areas. But instead of dwelling on the negativity, the restaurant aims to the bridge to a better tomorrow for the community, by providing change for a better today. Taveres shared how the business makes it a point to hire kids from around the area, to keep youth out of trouble and give them something constructive to do. Mr. Everything’s job, he said, is not just to feed the community, but to elevate it.
“Especially in this area you have a lot of high school, middle and elementary kids, basically the Atlanta Public School system,” Taveres, who also attended high school in the area, said. “We give a lot of the kids in colleges an opportunity to work, so it’s a benefit to be able to hire young and make sure that everyone in the community is taken care of. We also do a lot of charity work for the city of Atlanta, and give food to them for their banquets, to change how the Bluff is right now. [It’s important] for someone to actually care about the community instead of having a Starbucks or a coffee come in, which is just strictly business.”
Twenty-three years ago, when the Smith family migrated to Atlanta, they thought they were founding a restaurant. But little did they know, that by providing comfort food, they were providing actual comfort to a hurting community.
Nothing about Mr. Everything is “strictly business”; it’s all a family matter.
Information to note
Most Popular Dish
The notorious “Shrimp and chicken over yellow rice” will take customers for a culinary ride. The dish is a three layered experience: tender yellow rice acts as the bed for grilled vegetables, chicken and shrimp, topped with melted cheese and flecks of oregano.
870 Martin Luther King Jr Dr S, Atlanta, GA 30314,