Salt Lake City Marketplace
by Richard Markosian
From the war-torn city of Mostar, Bosnia to living broke in Salt Lake City. Now 12 years later Ibro Sameric opens his dream restaurant.
The charm of Bosnian culture is their ability to enjoy life rather than stuff. Maybe this is due to what they suffered from the recent war. But many Bosnians I’ve met value beautiful home gardens, hard work, and good food. Another trait of Bosnians is amazing hospitality to visitors. This is probably the reason Bosnians do well in the restaurant business.
The Samerics have spent their entire adult lives working extremely hard, they have been through war and raised their two girls and now as Ibro says, “I want to present the best Bosnian food to the world.”
Religious and ethnic war tore Bosnia apart during the early 90s. Ibro and his family immigrated to the United States from Mostar, Bosnia in 1998. They suffered through the Bosnian war holed up in their apartment, unable to leave for risk of sniper fire and mortar shells. Unable to play outside the Sameric’s two daughters spent all their time playing with a button collection and reading books. During the war, the food shortages required Ibro to trek 60 miles traveling in the middle of night over the mountains to transport giant bags of flour and beans for his family and residents of his apartment building. Ibro was under constant attack by the Croatian army and he did what he could to keep his family fed and safe.
The “old bridge” was once the greatest symbol of Bosnia’s solidarity of culture and spirit despite religious differences.
Old Bridge Cafe’s mosaic tile and painting of the former 600-year-old Turkish bridge—a fitting representation of Ibro and Milojka lives—married divided in religion but always together.
Ibro is a tough man and not afraid of hard work. He did most of the construction on is restaurant himself. But he says he is starting his business thanks to the help of his family.
Ibro’s wife and two girls help when they can. His sister and brother in-law help with the burek (which is a filo dough roll with a meat or cheese filled center.
With about four other Bosnian restaurants in Salt Lake City Old Bridge Cafe has some tough competition. I’ve eaten at every Bosnian restaurant and Ibro isn’t overstating when he claims his “[ours] is the very best”.
Bosnian “cevapi” is their national dish. It’s a veal sausage served over a flat bread with raw onions. Served with a beer on a hot summer day, it’s an amazing treat. §