Gloria’s international food restaurant in search of new owners

Gloria’s World Village Restaurant is for sale by the owners. Michelle Grimaud||The News

After 15 years of business, the international restaurant Gloria’s World Village has been listed as for sale by the owners.

Stuart and Gloria Shull, the president and secretary-treasurer of Gloria’s World Village Restaurant respectively, began advertising the sale of their property, located on 15th street across from Wilson Hall, two months ago and already have begun to generate interest from several sources.

During this process, the couple has also actively sought out prospective new owners from the surrounding businesses to both purchase the property and to keep their restaurant running, but have yet to accept any offers.

Gloria said they are not selling the business due to financial reasons.  She said her husband and she no longer feel as capable, both physically and emotionally, of managing the restaurant.  This is partially due to an accident almost a year ago, in which Gloria broke her wrist and suffered nerve damage.

“We want to be clear,” Gloria said, “we are not closing the restaurant, we are just selling it.  There was no problem for us as far as business; it’s just time for us to do other things.”

She said it is their wish that whoever purchases the property will also take over the business aspect, that being one of the primary factors the couple are concerned with while evaluating bids for the site.

Gloria said if someone did pay them the full asking price, they wouldn’t have any say in what becomes of the building, however they do hope the new owners would see this opportunity less as a business venture, and more of a chance to continue to serve the community.

Gloria, 65, said she and her husband Stuart, 62, in the last few years have slowly been worn down by the paper work and the up keep of the company and their actual home.

When ‘Gloria’s’ originally started it was open every day but Sunday. After a few years though, the hours changed to being additionally closed on Saturday.  Today, the business also closes early on Fridays.

In listing their reasons for having decided upon now to sell their building, Gloria said they want to spend more time and play a bigger role in the lives of their grandchildren, have more time to landscape at their house, and volunteer more at their church, in their neighborhood and at the local nursing home.

“Over the years, our home on Olive has become more and more the home we want to spend our time in and has ‘Gloria’s’ has become that less and less,” said Gloria.  “At this time we want to spend more time in our community.”

Through a combination of a dream she had as a child, and an empathy for international students who leave behind their country, family, and friends to come to school here, Gloria herself having lived in 11 different states, ‘Gloria’s’ first came to be in 1998.

The first version of what would later become Gloria’s World Village was a primarily Asian international grocery store on Main Street in the apartment building across from Dairy Queen, which now is home to El Rancho Market.

Stuart and Gloria managed the grocery store for only about three months before they both decided the store was not fulfilling their shared dream for their business agreeing that they needed more room and a better location, especially if they wished to follow through with their plans to also add a restaurant.

For a period of about 7 years after the grocery store, ‘Gloria’s’ found itself in between permanent locations.

Located first in what is now the Burrito Shack, they later moved the restaurant aspect of their business to what today is Quarter’s Campus Grill, keeping the grocery store at the previous location, before finally finding their current locale just next door to Quarter’s in 2005.

Today, the restaurant serves an eclectic assortment of dishes from countries including India, Thailand, Greece, Turkey, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as food from a multitude of European and African countries, and encourages the growth of inter-cultural relationships.

Besides the plethora of cultural cuisines they provide, the owners hope the unique atmosphere of their restaurant and service provided will encourage potential buyers to continue the tradition and keep the restaurant open as is and not renovate the space for a different project or type of business.

Gloria said they have kept a steady flow of business in the past few years for which they are thankful for especially in a time when they see so many other businesses closing, and it is their unique family-style dining and strong customer base that will continue to make ‘Gloria’s’ a profitable business for the next owners if they choose to continue it.

“A lot of new restaurants have come to Murray in the past few years,” Gloria said, “but this is a small town and these places are just more of the same stuff.  We are very thankful there is nothing like our restaurant in Murray.”

Gloria and Stuart said they are willing to work with whoever the new owners are, staying on however long is necessary, to help with the transition to new management of the restaurant as well as contributing new ideas for the expansion of ‘Gloria’s’.

“We still have lots of ideas to expand our business, but not the time or energy,” Gloria said.  “We want someone to not only buy our business and continue to sell the same meal items, but also to expand it.”

She said in the future she would like to see the addition of a bakery, more specialized coffee and tea, and more items to cater to vegetarian and other special diets.    With a new owner she said ‘Gloria’s’ would be able to stay open later and also be able to serve breakfast.

Gloria said slowly she has seen a shift in the demographic of her customers from originally being predominantly international students, to now, where most of the customers are Americans.

Anas Almazaur, freshman from Saudi Arabia, said the food at Gloria’s is always delicious, although not 100 percent authentic, just in the past week having eaten there three times.  He said he was not aware that the Shull’s were trying to sell their business, although he didn’t think that would affect his decision to eat there.

“As long as the chef stays the same I’ll keep coming back,” Almazaur said.  “If the new owners change the food however, that would possibly cause me to stop eating there.”

Ahmed Ilturiman, a senior, also from Saudi Arabia, said he and his wife eat at ‘Gloria’s’ about once a month.

“The service and food have always been good at ‘Gloria’s’,” said Ilturiman, “I don’t think a change in ownership will influence my decision to eat there.”

Gloria said many of their long-time, regular customers were very upset to see the for sale sign outside the restaurant and to hear the Shull’s would be moving on to other endeavors.  She said the thought of leaving their business even brings her to tears.

The sale listing is for one year, but the couple said they are willing to wait indefinitely to find the right owners for ‘Gloria’s’.

The process of selling may take multiple years to be completed if no one comes along with a suitable offer for the building or who is willing to pay the full price.

In the meantime, Gloria’s World Market will continue to stay open and continue to serve the community its unique variety and style of food.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.