EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – One Grub is a restaurant located inside First Christian Church in Central El Paso. It serves the community healthy vegan meals through a “pay it forward” system but it faces an uncertain future.
“Anyone in the community can come in and have a meal that is fresh, plant based and made with love and integrity,” Roman Wilcox “People can come, in order from the menu and it is all provided by the community.”
Roman’s wife Adriana Wilcox has a complimentary organization called Planty for the People.
“We utilize the space to teach people how to grow food in the desert that is our main mission,” she said. “As a volunteer group, we do a lot of just hands-on maintenance on the garden, that we really try to impart some growing techniques and people involved with working with the land.”
The Wilcoxes say they love the space in which One Grub is located as it is in the heart of El Paso and serves an underserved community.
“This ZIP code in particular is one of the lowest income ZIP codes in El Paso,” Adriana Wilcox said. “It is considered a food desert, so there’s not access to fresh vegetables within a walkable distance. It is really tough to folks that are low-income or folks that are low income and also have health issues. And then we also have to pay it forward program that kind of combines both organizations together.”
This husband and wife duo have served the community for nearly 10 years and say the community has really stepped up to make what their organization is today.
“We do an average about 30 ‘pay-for-it’ meals a week and I would say the community pays it forward so there’s always just a little bit more in the tank so that’s kind of like a marker when it comes down to success.” Roman Wilcox said. “We’ve been able to provide thousands of meals and we have the community to thank for that.”
The Montes family frequents One Grub quite often.
Javier Montes said it was his wife who introduced him to the restaurant before he fell in love with vegan food.
“Eating vegan food was completely out of the question so she brought me in and we shared my displeasure of being here with Roman and he brought out a top sample of food that he had because I was not going to probably eat anything and I fell in love with the food,” Montes said. “We come here at least once or twice a week.”
It was Roman Wilcox’s love for cooking that led him to try out for the HBO Max show called “The Big Brunch.”
“There was always a little sneaking suspicion that that opportunity was going to follow through and happen,” Roman Wilcox said. “But once it did happen, that same day within the same hour, we found out there is a contract put on the building, so it’s just been a constant rollercoaster of just excitement and hope with also like questioning and experiences. It’s just been interesting.”
That’s right, Roman’s and Adriana’s beloved diner is facing a lot of uncertainty.
The property is under contract by Spaghetti Bowl Properties. We reached out to them and they said, “We are opened-minded on who wants to stay and who wants to come in. We want to make the space culturally and economically viable.”
With lots of uncertainty, there is one thing the Wilcoxes are certain of: Hope
“I think what has also kept us here in this very strange, very like ungrounded space, is the space itself. It’s very unique to have a commercial kitchen with garden accessibility with a parking lot in the middle of a food desert in the middle of a neighborhood and there’s so many things that have kept us here. Just so that we can see is there a possibility that that we can stay.” Adriana Wilcox said.
The final sale of the property is expected to take place sometime next year.