Two Loonies and a Whole Lot of Love

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1 Two Loonies And A Whole Lot Of Love Pic
Donna Swarzynski and her business partner Brenda Sawatzky

We’ve all been there. The refrigerator is bare, the family is starving, and we’ve got no time to cook. Fast food takeout and Kraft dinner gets old fast, especially when your conscience keeps telling you to slow down and enjoy a home-cooked meal around the dinner table.

Two enthusiastic local entrepreneurs have been there, too, and they’ve launched a new business that’ll cure the busy schedule and fix the fast food slump. Two Loonies and a Ladle is getting ready to change the way you think about takeout.

With an anticipated opening date of December 5, Two Loonies will be ready to send you home with hot, fresh, and ready-to-go family dinners. As a matter of fact, they don’t even like to think of it as takeout, but rather takeaway food, which better suits their home-cooked goodness. Their signature dishes will include perogies, meatballs, cabbage rolls, soups, and desserts, as well as a variety of other daily specials.

“There’s so many days when you’re working in the city and you’ve got an hour drive there and back and you’re cold, tired, and hungry,” says co-owner Donna Swarzynski. “You can just stop, grab a pan of hot perogies, and go home and eat your dinner and talk to your kids.”

Swarzynski has already built a solid reputation for her amazing dishes, including cheesecakes and perogies, and she and her business partner, who has requested anonymity, have been busily preparing their new storefront location at Unit G, 290 Main Street in Niverville.

The pair’s business concept is to remind you of your grandmother’s kitchen: vintage décor and home-cooked smells that greet you at the door. Their goal is to provide a happy, calming spot at the end of your busy day. A virtual hug, Swarzynski calls it.

“We want people to walk in and feel the love,” she says.

Their 600-square-foot space will be put to good use. The kitchen will comprise half of it, where Swarzynski and her business partner will prepare and package instant meals. Other dishes will be frozen and ready for those wanting to stock up for future dinners.

Their plan for the front half of the shop is to create a cosy cafe-style browsing area with displays of hand-crafted wares by local artisans. There will also be a display case of delectable desserts.

All of their dishes will be made with the freshest ingredients and Epicure spices, which are of the highest quality and gluten- and MSG-free. Down the road, they anticipate expanding their menu to include specialty dishes for people with allergies as well as special orders to suit customers’ whims.

These women have more than just a heart for great food, though. They also have a desire to give back to the community they feel has given so much to them. Helping Hands, the local churches, and Parent Advisory Councils will be some of the recipients of Two Loonies’ efforts. The duo hope to eventually provide online hot lunch ordering and delivery to schools and offices, as well as to seniors who may be housebound.

“What I’ve found as a commuter is that sometimes you forget about yourself and your own health,” Swarzynski says.

They also plan to provide on-the-go lunches, such as salads and soups in reusable mason jars to help eliminate people’s excessive reliance on plastic and Styrofoam.

Idyllic as their business model sounds, the two ladies are just regular people with a dream of making the world a little bit nicer.

“Both of our life experiences have led us to the conclusion that, if not individually then societally, we take ourselves far too seriously,” Swarzynski says. “We all need to take a break, have fun, and enjoy the moment. We understand that owning a business is difficult, but we think that within the constructs of running a business we can attain that state of happiness. Our business model is based not solely on a profit. It is based on social responsibility. We feel our best when we’re giving back, so we’re really hoping our silliness will spread.”

If any part of their business would reflect that, it would be the name. Together they are, after all, two self-ascribed loonies. Neither are ashamed to admit that they made their connection through mental health issues.

Swarzynski hasn’t always been the perogy queen. Her mother held that title long before her, and passed down the legacy before her untimely death to cancer. Swarzynski eventually lost both of her parents to the same cancer, all while struggling with her inability to conceive a child. 

She eventually did conceive and gave birth to her one and only child, Nevaeh. Dark times returned with her divorce and new life as a single parent. She worked in Winnipeg and lived in Niverville, putting in 12-hour days, picking up fast food first and then her daughter from daycare. Her anxiety finally got the best of her, leaving her emotionally crippled and unable to return to work. She describes these as some of the darkest days of her life.

Unable to effectively feed herself and her daughter, Swarzynski found herself at the door of the local food bank, depleted and distraught.

“When I walked into [Helping Hands], I just started crying,” she says. “But I was welcomed by strangers, these nice ladies who gave me their hearts.”

During this time, she vowed to herself that someday she would pay it forward. As she healed, she returned to her passion for cooking. She began advertising homemade dishes over the internet and found that the demand was almost more than she could keep up with. This proved to Swarzynski that many others struggled with lives as harried as hers had been.

She and her business partner began to make plans, pooling their resources and chasing a shared dream. Their anticipated hours will be from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Weekends will be reserved for catering special events.

“This is my purpose,” says Swarzynski. “To be cooking and giving back, one perogy at a time.”

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