Just minutes from downtown Winnipeg on 660 acres of forests, lakes and trails home to bison, whitetail deer and countless other wildlife, FortWhyte Alive is the perfect escape to nature.
Buffalo Stone Café, located inside the Alloway Reception Centre, is a social enterprise run by Community Living Interlake, a not-for-profit organization that serves and provides opportunities, programs and housing to Manitobans with intellectual disabilities. The Executive Director Jimm Simon, the commitment of community living associations, "is to look after these folks, support them and help them live normal lives. Part of what Community Living Interlake wants to do is help with integration and normalization and job training skills."
Seven years ago the organization started a gift store in Stonewall, Manitoba called Something Beautiful. One of its clients suggested the name after they noticed how much time and energy was spent creating the space. This endeavour was quite successful as it allowed them to have people from their day program work in the gift shop and individualize their work experience and integration within the community. With that success, it added a café into the mix in 2019.
After the success of the restaurant in Stonewall and with the support of FortWhyte Alive's President & CEO Liz Wilson, in December the group decided to open a second location within Winnipeg to broaden its reach and impact on the community.
We had the chance to sit down with Executive Director of Community Living Interlake, Jimm Simon to learn more about the new café. See the video below.
The space is filled with natural light and offers a relaxing environment to leisurely sip your coffee while watching birds or bunnies curiously explore by the window. Or, for those with activities planned, the café offers additional snacks to pack in your bag for the hiking trails.
The menu has something for everyone from all-day breakfast options and heartier dishes like the BBQ pulled pork, French onion soup, or the bacon-topped Café Burger. When you mix your meal with the soothing ambiance of nature, it makes for a lovely afternoon.
When Something Beautiful first took on this new location they decided to hire a new cook from outside the organization, Zack Ssenkungu, and promoted their previous head cook to Executive Chef to oversee both restaurants. Things have begun opening up and visitors have returned to the café, which includes bringing clients of the social enterprise from Stonewall to return to the kitchen. Some work full shifts while others may work for a few hours, but the beauty of this set up means they still get to experience all the amazing things FortWhyte has to offer--like maple syrup tasting, hiking and bird watching.
Chef Zack Ssenkungu joined us to chat about what makes working in this space so special and how he plans on bringing part of his culture to the menu in the video below.
As you enter through the gates off of McCreary Road and look to the north side of the property you will see FortWhyte Farms. This farm partners with high schools and youth-serving organizations to bring young people into nature to learn about food, farming, health and wellness. The team members of Something Beautiful also have access to the farm and will be using local farm-to-table produce in the menu when possible.
If you are looking for in-season fresh produce, baked goods and a way to support the community, keep an eye out for the Farms' weekly summer market that usually runs July-September. You can always pop in The Nature Shop for products like honey, whole chickens or pork cuts all year long.
Make sure to check out the Buffalo Stone Café for upcoming events like its Easter Brunch and Mother's Day Brunch.
Buffalo Stone Café (1961 McCreary Rd) is open 9-4:30pm daily.