“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
Some people cripple under personal and professional hardships, but entrepreneurs often pile adversities one atop the other, then use them to climb to success. Dana Buric’s story on the opening of her Parkville business, Café Euro, personifies this spirit.
Buric and her family lived through a series of ethnic-based wars in the former Yugoslavia, her homeland. Even though Buric has been through events many didn’t survive, she’s reluctant to linger on thoughts of sadness or hardship. With her new business and in other aspects of her life, she’s fought to make life good for herself and her neighbors.
“No one can understand how devastating war is unless you’ve been through it,” the coffee connoisseur told me as I spoke with her at her Parkville Shopping Center cafe. “I lost everything [material], but I don’t dwell on those bad times.”
After a few recouping and rebuilding years, Buric decided it was time to follow a dream. “I want to teach people about the many different coffees and fine chocolates from around the world,” she said.
She believes Parkville is just the spot to make it happen.
“I like the area. Parkville is vibrant, so many ethnicities, people from different places. People are willing to try things.”
Buric opened Café Euro in June 2011. She didn’t turn lemons into lemonade in the literal sense, but she’s conjured up a series of tasty drinks with specialty coffee beans from around the world, as well as a few other ingredients. And she’s topping it all off with chocolate. For those who don’t appreciate fine chocolate, there’s the allure of free Wi-Fi in a cozy, old-world, unrushed setting.
In her former life in Yugoslavia, Buric owned two grocery establishments and a coffee bar in the city of Mostar. During the Bosnian war, in the early ‘90s, Mostar split, philosophically, if not physically. The area was divided into a Western section that was a stronghold of Croat forces, while the Eastern part housed the Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Newspapers reported mass execution, ethnic cleansing and rape on the Bosniak people of the West Mostar region, according to the website Bosnia Facts.
Ultimately, Mostar’s historic district had been destroyed. The businesses and lives that had been built were lost, along with many landmarks.
In 1999, Buric left Mostar with her son Dani, 21, daughter Ira, 12, and her beloved dog Kuky.
“People kept telling me that I should leave my dog there,” she said. Buric was wearing a Humane Society T-shirt during our meeting, so it was no surprise to hear her say, “I couldn’t imagine leaving Kuky behind any more than I could have imagined leaving one of my children.”
Buric’s will to bring Kuky to the United States is a microcosm of how she approaches life, and her current business at Café Euro. People told her it would be wise for her to leave Kuky with friends when she emigrated to the United States, but her entrepreneurial, just-do-it, spirit and ability to think outside of normal channels prevailed. The 16-year-old Kuky lives with Buric in Bel Air.
When Buric arrived in the United States, she began work with the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit agency designed to help immigrants find core services, such as shelter, food, school for the children and jobs for adults. She lived in the Patterson Park area for a few years, then bought a home in Hamilton, just a few blocks from her current business, Café Euro. She worked for the Committee for more than five years.
Buric then received a real estate license and went to work as a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage for almost six years. Today she works with Prudential Carruthers. Throughout all of this, she’s held a volunteer position, working with immigrants to improve their language skills and help them prepare to become citizens.
“My son, Dani, started saying to me that we should go into business,” said Buric. Initially she balked at the idea because of the lagging economy, but according to Buric, her son urged her on, saying, “If you start a business in a good economy you are competing with so many others, but if you start in a bad economy, you have an edge on others who are too afraid to get into the marketplace.”
Buric saw the logic. “A lot of people start in a good economy, so doing it the opposite way allows you to build up your business and get a foothold,” she said.
Dana works at the Café with Dani and Ira. Her husband, Paul, helps out on weekends. Dani picked out an old-world-style tin ceiling to create a European ambience. They’ve added televisions, comfortable chairs and free Wi-Fi. A local musician sets up to play for customers on weekends. On other days, an eclectic mix of music greets patrons.
Among some of the drink offerings are: frappes (regular and sugar-free), steamed hot chocolate, wild raspberry and peppermint tea, iced drinks, as well as seasonal drinks. The menu and products will continue to evolve, according to Buric.
The future is even more exciting. Beyond just expanding the product line, Buric’s goal is to franchise Café Euro. “If you don’t risk, then you cannot make money,” she explained.
FYI: Café Euro, 7611 Harford Rd., (Parkville Shopping Ctr.). Phone: 443-845-0176.