A new mobile café in Airdrie is offering a free caffeine pick-me-up Nov. 27 to anyone that donates to the Airdrie Food Bank.
The Caffeinated Squirrel will be parked in the food bank's parking lot from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., according to business co-owner Richard Schulze. Anyone who brings a cash or food donation during that time will be offered a free hot drink and doughnut, courtesy of the Caffeinated Squirrel and The Donut Man – a new business based out of Crossfield.
“This is something we felt compelled to do to give back to the community,” Schulze said, adding the idea came after learning of the charity’s recent food shortages. “It’s about making the word and bringing awareness to the community that we need to help these guys.”
Christine Taylor, Event, Marketing and Communications manager for the Airdrie Food Bank, said the charity is excited to collaborate with a new local business.
"We thought this would be really fun, to have people come out to the food bank, but also to profile their business," she said. "It's just fun, and we're thankful our community is responding to our needs. They're a great business and we love supporting local."
The Caffeinated Squirrel is a relatively new coffee truck, having launched in January. Schulze and his wife, Annette, run the business together. He said they came up with the idea shortly after Annette was laid off.
The coffee truck offers a variety of caffeinated beverages, including premium coffees, lattes and other café staples, according to Schulze, who said he and his wife taught themselves how to make the drinks and experimented with the coffee truck’s menu. He added the menu is still evolving.
“In January, we had friends and family nights,” he said. “People would come over to our shop. We’d open up the shop and do drinks, and we’d play with them. That’s how we got feedback – good, bad or otherwise – to get the menu to where we’re at.”
Despite opening just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Schulze said the Caffeinated Squirrel’s first year of operation has been successful. In the early months of the pandemic, he said they would move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in Airdrie, parking the truck for a few hours at a time and posting their whereabouts on social media. As word about the company has grown, he said they tend to be invited personally to park their truck at businesses, schools and private functions.
“When we started in April, we’d have lineups 60 families deep,” he said. “We had AHS concerns and the odd people, but we followed protocol and they continued to give us their blessing. People were being very sensitive to what was going on and didn’t want us to stop. They couldn’t go to a Starbucks anymore, so for us to pull in, they were so ecstatic.”