Unlike in some houses, bathroom words aren’t banned in Lien Nguyen’s house. Quite the opposite: bathroom words are welcome.
“My kids think the word poop is funny,” says Nguyen, who co-owns the soon-to-open Poop Cafe in Toronto’s Koreatown with her husband. The mom of two made the poop-themed toilet covers that adorn the toilet-chairs. She made the emoji poo pillows for the bench seating and drew the poop cartoons on the walls of her cafe. She even created the desserts that fill urinal-and-toilet themed serving bowls. All the while, her kids, ages three and five, have loved watching her work.
“My son goes to school and draws pictures of poop, and his teachers make poop art for me,” she says, smiling. “His teachers are excited to come to the cafe when it opens.”
They aren’t the only ones. After weeks of delay, anticipation is building for the opening of the country’s only poop-themed cafe, located at 706 Bloor Street West. “I get at least a dozen new inquiries a day from people who want to try it,” says Nguyen, who says some of the paperwork had postponed the opening from summer to fall. She replies to everyone via social media. The 36-seat space will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week starting in October.
Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen has been working hard to get to this point. Before the Poop Cafe, Nguyen owned a store called I’m Yours, where she made pillows and stuffed toys. It was located just two doors away from her current space. After she and her husband of six years, Daniel Molnar, started a family, Nguyen went back to school to study culinary arts at George Brown College. Inspired by a toilet-themed cafe she saw on a visit to Asia two years ago, she set her heart on opening a similar poop-themed cafe in Toronto.
“People ask me how I do it all,” she says. “I don’t know. I work hard and I’m super busy.”
During the day, her kids are at school and daycare while she and her team are hard at work. The family’s evenings are spent in the Poop Cafe getting ready for opening day.
My interest had been piqued by countless newspaper articles I’d read about the opening of the Poop Cafe. I had to check it out myself, but I couldn’t go alone. This seemed like the perfect place to take some potty-mouthed boys. About two weeks before the scheduled fall opening, I took one of my boys and his best friend to test out the desserts and check out the decor at the Poop Cafe. From the moment we walked in, the boys were in awe. This was the one place they were free to talk about poop and, well, admire it.
The boys ran to the poop pillows and hugged them—they recognized the iconic poop emojis instantly. Then they discovered the toilets and sat down. “Cool!” they shouted. We asked to try three Asian-inspired desserts, and when they arrived at our table, the desserts were piled high, more like an edible sculpture than any shaved ice I’d ever seen. They were also served in the cutest mini ceramic urinal bowls. The boys dug in, devouring the Oreo shaved ice and the cotton-candy gelato served in a soft waffle cone and topped with Pokis and whipped cream. It was a feast for the eyes as much as the stomach. They continued to eat while I sat down with Nguyen.
Ensuring everyone feels comfortable is exactly what Nguyen was aiming for. “There are lots of nice cafes like this in Asia, but not as many in Toronto. I wanted to create a place where people could come to enjoy the food and have a great time.”