Think you could have a baby and open a brand new cafe at the same time? Guess what — Heena and Mike did!
Most new parents would agree: after you bring a baby into the world, everything changes. Night and day blur together. Your new addition constantly needs you. That is why, when I meet couples like Heena and Michael (Mike) Mak, I have the highest admiration for them and what they can accomplish.
They new parents to a beautiful baby boy, Graysen. Months before he was born, they were also planning and preparing to open Brown Butter Cafe. On Sunday, September 24, Graysen made his debut. All 5 pounds, 7 ounces of him.
And only about a month later, on November 6, Brown Butter Cafe made its debut, too. Heena and Mike spent a little time settling into life at home, feeling out their routine with a newborn. And then, they pushed on with opening their cafe. It’s the newest coffee shop to hit the Edmonton food scene and it’s gaining a loyal following already.
And best of all, it’s baby-friendly.
Here’s what Heena had to say about their adventure into parenthood and entrepreneurship.
1. You’ve just opened Brown Butter. What do you specialize in?
Brown Butter Cafe is what we like to call our home away from home. It’s modern and minimalistic, but warm at the same time. We want to treat everyone as friends, rather than customers. We love to have conversations with our guests and learn our regulars’ names!
As for our food, we make everything from scratch. It starts with our classic coffee bun, then we put our own twist to it. We have both savoury and sweet filled buns, as well as our bun-wiches, which are sandwiches using our house made coffee buns. They are balanced perfectly with salty and sweet flavours and it just works!
2. What motivated you to open a cafe?
Both my husband and I always had a passion for food and hospitality. My husband’s family had a Chinese restaurant in a small town and he grew up watching his father give happiness to others through food. I, in a very similar experience, loved seeing my dad enjoying the food I made for us when my mom was at work.
We both knew that it is ultimately what we wanted to do in life and it is this very passion that crossed our paths together. We met in culinary school, spent too much time together traveling and competing in culinary competitions and now here we are. Married, with a beautiful baby boy and a new cafe! I guess in short, our family was, still is, and will always be our biggest motivation!
3. How has becoming parents shaped your approach to running a restaurant and cafe, so far?
It’s definitely been a challenge. Having a newborn and a brand new cafe is hard! But having a baby has taught us that sometimes it’s okay to take things slow.
We now know that as long as we are doing what we do the best, with all of our hearts, it’s okay that things take a little bit of time and that is why our soft opening phase may be longer than others. We would rather do things perfect the first time than to rush things and we hope that people see that in our food as well.
Oh, and patience. My husband has always been good at it, but having a baby has taught ME a brand new skill of patience!
4. Have you faced any challenges to opening your new business, aside from the fact that you had a baby? (!!!)
Not enough hours in a day! We had so many things to do before opening the cafe and with both of us working full-time jobs, we just never had enough time. There were so many days I struggled to stay focused, or awake.Going into this, we knew not everything could go smoothly, but surprises with construction, equipment and everything in between really wore me out at times. Thankfully, we’ve had amazing teams working with us and we are so grateful for everything they have done to help our dream come to reality!
5. Which of your menu items is the most popular?
Definitely our Good Morning breakfast bun-wich! Its sweet and savoury, perfect with a cup of coffee. Plus, my husband makes killer eggs! We see a lot of guests get this not only in the morning, but for lunch as well.
6. What is your vision for the future of Brown Butter Cafe?
We want our cafe to be a place people think of when they want to spend time in a cozy, warm and inviting place. For them to hang out with a friend. We want to get to know everyone, be friends with our regulars. Ultimately, we just want to show our love and passion through our food and make people happy. Seeing a smile on everyone’s face is what we want!
7. Finish this sentence: motherhood is ____________ .
Right now, it feels like I have two babies, sometimes three including my husband! But every single moment is precious and I would still do it again in a heartbeat.