Autism-friendly cafe opening in Riverwest
Nic and Nicole Quiles plan to open Milwaukee's first Autism-friendly community eatery, called Caban's Cafe, in October 2017.
"To our knowledge, it will be the first café geared toward autism awareness in Milwaukee, and possibly in all of Wisconsin," says Nic Quiles.
The 1890 Queen Anne Victorian building, located at 2548 N. Holton St., once housed a grocery store, Caban's Grocery, owned by Quiles' grandparents from 1956 until 1980.
"Using the 'Caban' name is our way of paying homage to my grandparents," Nic says.
The cafe will provide food and beverages, workplace opportunities, a supportive environment for individuals with autism and their families and, eventually, the foundation for a community school geared toward children with autism.
"The café will offer social acceptance, help build confidence and allow for independent and positive interaction with others," says Nicole.
The menu will include fresh bakery from local artisans and hot and cold organic/fair trade beverages. Nic was raised on a coffee farm in Puerto Rico and his family has many years of experience in growing and cultivating coffee organically. The Quiles have also developed partnerships with growers in Puerto Rico and other countries.
Activities will include board games, a chalkboard wall for drawing or doodling and arts and crafts workshops for parents and children. Once a month, they plan to host a counselor or child behavior professional who will provide free workshops focused on dealing with individualized educational programs, school choices, trigger management, etc.
The Quiles came up with the idea for the cafe after their son, Sebastian, who is now 11, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 5.
"Since his diagnosis, we have experienced the challenges that all parents with children – and adults – who are diagnosed with autism encounter," says Nic. "However, Sebastian's diagnosis has also brought us closer together as a family, as co-parents, and has allowed us to recognize there is a greater purpose and need, which we can help realize through community efforts."
Although Nic and Nicole are divorced, they successfully co-parent their son together and look forward to being business partners.
"You do not need to break the familial bonds that were shared when you were married. You can create new ways of sharing in moments as a family," says Nic. "Our motivation is to provide the healthiest possible environment for our child."
"There is a saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child,' and for many families with children who are on the spectrum it is especially important to support one another," says Nicole. "People who visit our home are treated and welcomed as family."
Hours are tentatively set for Monday-Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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