In October 2017, the “first café geared toward autism awareness” in Wisconsin will open. As reported in an article in OnMilwaukee, Nic and Nicole Quiles are opening Milwaukee’s first Autism-friendly community eatery, called Caban’s Cafe. This 1890 Queen Anne Victorian building at 2548 N. Holton St. was once a grocery store, Caban’s Grocery, and was owned by Nic Quiles’ gradparents from 1956 until 1980.
“Using the ‘Caban’ name is our way of paying homage to my grandparents,” Nic said.
The cafe, supported by the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, will have a menu that includes fresh-baked goods from local artisans and hot and cold organic/fair trade beverages. However, they will provide more than just food and beverages – they offer workplace opportunities, a supportive environment for individuals with autism and their families and, eventually, the foundation for a community school for children with autism.
Nicole said, “The café will offer social acceptance, help build confidence and allow for independent and positive interaction with others.”
The Quiles came up with the idea for the cafe after their son, Sebastian, who is now 11 years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 5. With this experience, they decided the cafe would have services that catered to children and individuals like Sebastian.
Activities provided at the cafe will include board games, a chalkboard wall for drawing/doodling, and arts and crafts workshops for parents and children. In addition, the Quiles plan to host a counselor or child behavior professional who will provide free workshops focused on dealing with individualized education programs, school choices, trigger management, etc. once a month.
“Since his diagnosis, we have experienced the challenged 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.
Nic and Nicole are divorced, but they successfully co-parent their son together and are able to be business partners in the future.
“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. Our motivation is to provide the healthiest possible environment for our child,” said Nic.
The cafe is currently about 60% complete, but the couple still needs money to renovate the lower level, so they hope to raise an addition $10,000 to cover the remaining costs through GoFundMe. The donations will go toward building materials, manual labor, and supplies for the cafe’s kitchen. The Quiles plan to use as many upcycled, eco-friendly materials as possible.
“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. People who visit our home are treated and welcomed as family,” said Nicole.