Now Open: Poop Café
Yes, Toronto has a bodily waste-themed dessert restaurant called Poop Café on Bloor St. W. near Christie St.
Indeed, desserts are served in ceramic toilets and urinals and there’s much chocolate and nuts and poopy-looking sweets on the menu.
But what’s truly interesting is the owner, the dynamic Lien Nguyen. She created the menu, painted or sewed much of the decor and is planning her next endeavour already, although this place just opened in early October.
Meanwhile, she has two young children who “help” at the restaurant (we visited on a Thursday and a certain 5-year-old was on hand as he didn’t want to go to school), yet they don’t slow her down.
Just watching her makes you want to sit down and relax and enjoy a Poop Waffle, Bingsu or a Thai Ice Cream Roll.
Nguyen hails from Vietnam, where she studied accounting. “My mom wanted me to get a stable job.”
That didn’t really happen: she owned a clothing store near Hanoi. Then, in 2010, she decided to move to Canada, before her life got too settled.
“I don’t like to stay in one spot,” she said.
She knew no one, had little English and experienced considerable culture shock. Yet, she soon met her husband Daniel Molnar and started a family, and opened her first store here in 2012.
For two years, she worked her Bloor St. W. gift store, selling trinkets and mainly pillows she sewed herself. “It was a lot of work,” Nguyen admits, as her children were very small and the sewing time-consuming.
So she headed to George Brown College for its culinary management program and graduated last spring. (Food wasn’t a stretch for Nguyen; her grandfather was a high-profile chef in Vietnam.)
Meanwhile, on her travels, Nguyen had enjoyed eating at poop-themed restaurants in Vietnam and Taiwan. Her web designer husband actually joined her at one of them, and was a bit freaked out. He ordered pasta in a bathtub and got over it.
She proposed a poop-themed restaurant in Toronto. Molnar agreed but felt it best to stick to desserts.
They got this location and renovated. That entailed a lot of work for Nguyen, who personally drew the silly characters, including numerous poo emojis, all over the blackboard-painted walls. She converted real toilets from China into seats and sewed slipcovers for them that are decorated with fleece poo emoji appliqués. The front counter is a giant toilet of Nguyen’s own design.
(Nguyen’s two children often assisted with wall painting. Nguyen would let them do it, but had to paint over their scribbles after they went home to bed.)
Ever since opening, the hard work has not stopped for the young family. While Nguyen has a staff of 15, it’s barely enough to serve the lineups every weekend. The unique ceramic tableware Nguyen personally designed and ordered from overseas have begun to break — she’s only got 10 toilets left.
Meanwhile, Molnar works a full day at his job and comes in at night to do small repairs and help with the marketing and paperwork.
Yet, the duo are now planning to expand into their location’s upstairs space with another venture. It won’t be poo-themed but it will be “cute, for sure,” Nguyen says.
This tirelessly creative entrepreneur remains driven by her own philosophy of life and business: “If you like to create things, if you see something, you can do it.”
Her husband, meanwhile, amid the sewing, painting, cooking and planning, once said: “One day your head is going to explode.”