Chris Arrick needed a job, but he was having trouble finding one. So he stopped putting out his resume and tried another route.
He started a café.
That was the genesis of Café Du Cirque. Now, seven years later, the small restaurant and art gallery that patrons say has a college-town vibe has become a cultural gathering place in Peru.
Chris started the café with his mom, Bonnie, in 2006 when the family moved back to Peru after living in South Carolina for over a decade.
“We scrounged a few bucks together and started the place,” he said. “Peru didn’t have a coffee shop. There weren’t any Starbucks or anything, and we just wanted to fill that hole.”
The first year, they rented space inside Scarborough Fair, the mini-mall on North Broadway. But the location was hurting business, so they moved into a vacated antique store at 65 N. Miami St.
With a change in location, they also decided to change business strategies.
“The original idea was to have a coffee shop with a little food on the side,” Bonnie said. “But it quickly became a little café with coffee on the side.”
“We just rolled with it,” Chris said. “In order to survive, we had to do more than we were doing.”
Chris, now 38 years old, said he didn’t have any real experience as chef. He’d worked in a few restaurants and coffee shops over the years, but that was about it.
But once Chris began culinary experiments in the kitchen, Bonnie said he discovered he had a real knack for it.
“Chris has a sixth sense about what makes good food,” she said. “He’s able to taste something and know what’s in it. He knows how to put ingredients together.”
And a lot of those ingredients are locally grown and organic.