By CYNTHIA PICKERRELL, Four Points News
A former 20-year IBM software manager, mother-of-two and volunteer opened the new Four Points eatery last week — Kale Me Crazy. The Atlanta-based eatery serves a variety of fresh and raw food.
“As a mom, I am frequently transporting kids from one activity to another, and I often don’t have the time to prepare a healthy home-cooked meal,” said Nicole Tomaszewski, owner of the new restaurant located in the Trails at 620 on RM 620 and Wilson Parke Avenue.
Self-described as a “superfood cafe,” Kale Me Crazy offers a variety of options from salads, poke and acai bowls to wraps, toasts and the more conventional smoothies, juices and cleanse shots.
“I believe that most people and families would like to eat healthier, but they have similar challenges balancing their schedules with this priority,” said Tomaszewski, a Grandview Hills resident and graduate of the University of Texas.
Tomaszewski made a case to place the first Kale Me Crazy café in Austin close to her Grandview home, though the corporation had suggested a more central location.
It wasn’t that she just wanted her business in her own community. “I also felt that our community was lacking high quality, healthy options that could be picked up while on the go,” she said.
Tomaszewskis and her husband, JT, moved here five years ago from Chicago with daughter, Lexi, and son, Andrew.
Tomaszewski quit her 20-year position as an IBM software manager to stay home and savor time with her two elementary-age children once in Austin. Like many full-time working parents, she had often neglected healthy habits affecting food, sleep and exercise.
“When I stopped working, I finally had time to take care of me. I also wasn’t feeling I was the best mom. I wanted to be more and better for the kids, making more meals at home,” she said.
An ironic twist to the story comes from her time with nonprofit Junior Achievement, which she volunteered with in Chicago. The organization prepares young people to enter the business world. It had just started a new office in Austin in 2016 and Tomaszewski was hired as a part-time program manager. In the process of helping young people understand entrepreneurship, she got inspired to start her own business.
Tomaszewski actively looked for a franchise two years ago and that’s when she came across Kale Me Crazy, which fit nicely into her new life goals.
Going from software manager to restaurant owner “honestly sounds more scary than it is,” she said, “but I had the managing skills already.”
Her Kale Me Crazy extra training included six months in the “Nutrition and Healthy Living” program offered through Cornell University. It taught her the basics of understanding how food affects our bodies – things like digestion, cholesterol and “really stressing how to fact check information you read,” said Tomaszewski.
Having attempted to study healthy eating on her own, she often found conflicting information. So she researched different programs to study health and came across the one at Cornell focusing more on food science.
In addition, Kale Me Crazy corporation also provides excellent training. The three-week intensive is 70 percent food prep training that included specifics like hygiene and food allergies.
Fast forward to opening doors last week, Tomaszewski put her training into practice.
When you enter Kale Me Crazy café “you can see the kitchen is much larger than the front (serving) area,” she said. This is for good reason. All the dressings, soups and even almond milk are made from scratch. “There’s lots of daily preparation.”
Kale Me Crazy uses only non-GMO ingredients, strives to use local and organic food, and adds no sugar to any menu items. The selections can be customized and suitable for every dietary need, whether vegetarian, vegan, gluten free or following the ketogenic diet.
Two years in the making, the entire process – of finding a location, obtaining a permit and completing interior construction – took much longer than hoped. But now Tomaszewski has taken the giant step of opening a community eatery with a neighborhood atmosphere.
“I’m excited about getting to know people,” she said, adding that her hope is to attract regular customers and develop a rapport. “I am very anxious to finally open our doors to this great community.”