Eat, pray, love

Top notch food for a good cause

By Brandy King

Photo: The salmon dinner from one bistro

Over the last couple of years, the “pay it forward” dining concept has started to pop up in some markets – including a few Panera Bread locations and Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul Kitchen in New Jersey. I’ll be the first one to admit I didn’t expect anyone to bring the concept to the Miami Valley anytime soon, let alone successfully. Enter one bistro [the restaurant uses all lowercase letters], a Miamisburg eatery that managed to do it right, right out of the gate.

I heard about the eatery through a family member who knows a few of the volunteers – which comprise nearly all of one’s staff. The organization has fewer than five people on payroll and everyone else you see in the restaurants is a volunteer. Their main location is in downtown Miamisburg, with another that’s just opened in Germantown, and rumors of another to come in Xenia. As if that weren’t enough ground to cover with little to no paid staff, one bistro is also a food truck, serving up selections from their in-house menu on wheels.

It works like this: customers are given suggested prices for menu items, ranging from pumpkin waffles at Saturday brunch, to fresh grilled salmon at their Friday dinner service. Those who can afford those prices pay and enjoy their meal, although the “pay it forward” model encourages donation of your time in service or a few extra bucks to help cover the cost of those who cannot afford their meals. Let’s be honest – most of us can afford one or the other. I have four jobs and a two year old, so I’m short on time, but I won’t miss a few extra bucks. In fact, I wouldn’t miss half the pay I get for writing about this great restaurant – so that’s what I paid for two meals.

It’s pretty clear their mission is stellar, so let’s get down to business: the food was outstanding. I have to be honest in saying I wasn’t expecting anything earth shattering. It almost made it more exciting to find out after the fact I was eating at the table of acclaimed Cincinnati-area Chef Robert Adamson, without paying an arm and a leg for it, no less. My friend and I both ordered side salads – one apple quinoa and one pecan-crusted goat cheese – and I gave into the craving for a burger while she had the salmon. The salads were particularly huge for being considered a “side” portion, and both were delicious. The goat cheese was still a smidge warm inside without wilting the greens. I didn’t sample the salmon, though it looked and smelled amazing. My dinner guest had to talk herself out of gorging on the entire portion and boxing up the last bit to take home. My burger was impressively juicy – not greasy – and the gouda, bacon and pesto mayo all did their little dance together with the housemade buttered and toasted bun. Did I mention they make their own bread? I’d been thinking about a burger all week and the Bistro Burger lived up to the burger my taste buds had pictured in my head. I’m not sure if they make their own kettle chips, but those were delicious, too.

The desserts looked of the tongue-slapping-brain variety, but we were far too full to indulge. If I’m reading it correctly, the coffee and bakery portion of one bistro is actually another similarly-structured, but separately owned, business that operates within their building.

Seating is limited, as are their hours – so please be sure to check their website for operating hours, and I would strongly suggest making a reservation. Their website doesn’t insinuate that strongly enough. I had what bordered on being an awkward moment telling a server that we didn’t have a reservation after standing in the front foyer unnoticed for nearly 20 minutes. Luckily, someone else swooped in and made a huge recovery. This is when it’s really important to remember you’re eating top-notch food from a renowned chef, and making a charitable donation in the process. Ninety-nine percent of the people you interact with during the service of your meal will be volunteers. They’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, and they’re not allowed to accept tips. Anything you pay over the cost of your meal is a donation. This also explains their limited, but reasonable, hours with a few days serving brunch and lunch, and one evening for dinner.

Not only will I be going back, I can’t wait to return and take my family along – they have a kid’s menu! Despite the hiccup getting seated, everything about this dining experience made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. How often do you get to indulge yourself and help others at the same time?


one bistro is located 110 S. Second St. in Miamisburg. For more information, please call 937.859.1165 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Brandy King at

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