When you ask Alana and Mike Vandenbrink what challenges they have faced as small business owners, they have been up against their fair share.
They completely gutted and renovated their café Mollydookers Café & Bar at Apple Tree Creek (near Childers) before opening in 2016. They’ve endured painful lockdowns, uncertainties, downturns and now staff shortages brought on by COVID-19. All at the same time facing the added juggle of growing their family.
Welcoming their first child in 2018, quickly followed by another two, Alana and Mike have an uncanny ability to roll with the punches. Regulars will be familiar with the baby monitor on the counter or the squeals of toddlers as they come to visit mum or dad at work. But this pair don’t dwell on the difficult stuff, choosing to focus on the good and give’er (Canadian slang for give it all you’ve got).
“Mollydookers was always the plan for us. To have our own café where we could showcase what we love about Canada, its culture and its food, and bring a little Canuk service to the Region,” Alana said.
“Having children, especially toddlers and a newborn, while running a busy café does have its challenges, but thankfully we are able to make it work so someone is always home with them. We may not have been able to find that flexibility elsewhere.”
Mollydookers is also a little taste of home for Mike, who hasn’t been able to see his family for three years. The café features recipes from his mother and grandmother, as well as recipes the pair developed while working in restaurants in Canada.
“It’s definitely a fusion of Canadian and Australian flavours. People, especially Canadian visitors, love our authentic poutine (chips, cheese and gravy), flavour-infused meats, perogies, wings, pizzas, sweets and of course Caesars (the Canadian version of a bloody Mary cocktail),” Mike said.