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The Mediterranean marvel

A closer look at Two Cats Café

The top level of Two Cats Café offers both bar and booth seating and features the restaurant’s logo, inspired by the yin and yang symbol. (Photograph by Becca Eis)

The top level of Two Cats Café offers both bar and booth seating and features the restaurant’s logo, inspired by the yin and yang symbol. (Photograph by Becca Eis)

By Becca Eis | Echo

College students congregate at a multi level restaurant with a high, exposed ceiling, abstract art, New Age music and a bohemian vibe serving out-of-the-ordinary dishes. Both intriguing and a bit intimidating at first visit, Two Cats Café, located in the Village near Ball State University, is a unique dining setting offering international cuisine with a health emphasis. Its menu includes breakfast omelets and crepes, flatbread pizza, shawarma, gyros and poutines (smothered fries).

Instead of adding another franchised bar or coffee shop to the area, Bassam Helwani, owner of Two Cats Café, was pleased to offer the uncommon find of authentic Mediterranean cuisine at a locally owned restaurant with a punch of individuality.

Helwani, also the owner of Damask Café in Muncie, launched Two Cats Café in February of 2016. He noticed a vacant building, once known as The Locker Room, and bought it, knowing he always wanted to open a business in the Village. One day, when he was painting the shop, it hit him: Two Cats Café, named for and inspired by his two cats, Frankie and Francie.  Each had its own personality, which contributed to the menu items sharing their namesake such as Francie’s Chicken and Frankie’s Steak.

“Being from Syria, I can provide and add to the community a cuisine you really cannot get from any other chain restaurant,” said Helwani.

Something else that makes Two Cats Café special is Helwani’s passion for students. “100 percent of my staff are students, so I’m giving opportunities for students here — if they are artists — to come and display their art here; if they are in hospitality, come and practice here,” said Helwani. “So my mission statement is to make this as your stepping stone to something else that will help you after your graduation.”

Lexie Hahn, a sophomore at Ball State, started working at Two Cats Café at the beginning of her freshman year and enjoys the friendly, relaxed environment.

“I knew I wanted a job when I was coming to school, but I didn’t know where, and I passed the sign called Two Cats Café, and I’m a huge cat person,” said Hahn. “I just knew from the environment that it was somewhere that I wanted to work.”

Helwani also invites students from any university to come perform and share their talents, whether it be music, poetry or comedy. You can contact Bassam Helwani at helwani@msn.com or call the restaurant at 765-273-7477.

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