Crêpes, Customer Service and Café Joy

Family Visiting Colombian CreperieI know this photo is anything but self-explanatory, and maybe even a little confusing. But believe it or not, the episode it captures is at the heart of why we are opening Café Joy in Downtown Kitchener today.

Let’s back things up a bit: For many years, we’ve dreamed of starting a family business. And Tracy has had it in her head for ages that she’d like to one day run her own café.

After more than a decade of talk, but no action, it was the ultimate customer service experience at a tiny crêperie in the middle of rural Colombia that finally helped crystallize everything for us.

Village of Jardín, Colombia

Our youngest daughter is, well, to put it gently, less than adventurous when it comes to eating — so you can imagine what that meant for us as we travelled throughout Colombia, usually well off the beaten track.

We stayed for several days in the tiny village of Jardín, deep in the heart of the coffee-growing region of Antioquia. There weren’t many restaurants to choose from, and certainly nothing that appealed to a little Canadian vegan with a small repertoire of foods she’ll eat.

But thankfully, we found a restaurant that was run by a friendly Colombian woman, which served crêpes smothered in Nutella (among many other yummy things). Most nights, we ended up grabbing a crêpe for our daughter on our way to another restaurant, where the rest of our group ate.

Family in Jeep, Jardín, Colombia After a long, hot, dusty, bumpy day sitting in the back of a jeep that clearly had no shocks, we were all hungry — and incidentally, all craving crêpes — so we headed to Trigo y Centeno Crêpes for what had become our daily ritual.


As we wandered around in search of something else to fill our crêpe void, we bumped into Yarima, the proprietor of the little restaurant. When she spotted our daughter — her most loyal customer — she promptly started walking toward her restaurant. She insisted that we follow her, and assured us it was no trouble at all to reopen, just for us.

We ended up staying for over an hour, visiting and laughing with each other and with Yarima, and of course, enjoying our crêpes. It was such a “human” experience. We had a hankering for crêpes, and Yarima took enormous pride in meeting that need. She was clearly honoured that we were specifically seeking her out.

Interior of Cafe Joy - Seating AreaIn her own way, through her unassuming but welcoming little crêperie, Yarima was spreading joy throughout the little village of Jardín. And we thought to ourselves: We can do that!

At its simplest, that’s our vision for Café Joy. We anticipate that Café Joy will become our platform for spreading joy to everyone who walks through our doors.

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