A working parents’ paradise – coffee with a side of childcare

Erika Tkatchuck, and her daughter, order a coffee at Brain Snacks Co.’s café on University Park Drive. Brain Snacks Co. is a new café that offers childcare services. Photo by Rachel Sloane.

Brain Snacks Co. is a coffee shop with a twist; it has a child-friendly play area as well as a study area with the main café out front.

The inspiration behind the creation of the place was to help mothers. This little paradise is tucked away in a corner next to Pharmasave in Gardiner Park Village Square.

“I had been feeling a lot of angst in my career and wanted to see if I could put together a business concept that would be very fulfilling and have a community impact” said Donna Crooks, owner of Brain Snacks Co.

“We liked the play-on-words between how food is nourishing and wanted to support women in achieving their goals through professional development” said Crooks on the inspiration behind the name.

Eden McConnell, an early childhood educator and current Brain Snacks employee, said that working here was “a perfect fit right away” as she “loves working with kids.”

She is passionate about working there and believes in what the company is trying to achieve.

“I think it is important for moms to be able to have a minute to be themselves and not be a mom and know that their kids are well taken care of,” McConnell said.

Deciding what to include in the menu wasn’t very difficult said Ali Nicholls, co-owner of Brain Snacks Co.

“I’m a plant-based person so it was really important to me to offer inclusive menu items” said Nicholls.

Nicholls wanted to make sure that there was something on the menu for everybody to enjoy, no matter what your personal food preferences are. Nicholls can relate to every vegan person’s struggle when trying to find good vegan options outside of her home.

“As a vegan person, when I go to other restaurants it’s really hard to find options that are available to me that aren’t a side salad or fries” said Nicholls. They have various healthy food alternatives to satisfy everyone that wants to come and try it out.

Some menu items have plant-based meats like “plant chorizo mozza baguette” and “plant bacon & jalapeno grilled cheese brekkie.” They also offer dairy-free drink options using soy, oat, almond and coconut milk. Their premium Canadian coffee is from Fenwood Coffee Company in Victoria, BC.

Their prices vary from $2-6 for drinks, $14 for smoothie bowls and $7-20 for foods items.

“The child-minding service and the great coffee” said Erika Tkatchuk when asked about why she chose to come to Brain Snacks Co.

“Definitely [would] recommend it to anyone, specifically people that have children or an alternative lifestyle” said Tkatchuk.

“I needed a place to study that was child-friendly,” said Willow Lovstead, she laughed and gestured to her sleeping baby. Lovstead, a university student and mother, found an advertisement for Brain Snacks Co. on Facebook and decided to come in and give it a try.

“When you have children, you experience all the pressure of life,” said Crooks. “Often women are really holding things up, there is just so much to be done. We wanted to create something that helped women [and] would give them some of their time back,” she added.

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