A lady who is just as vivacious as the colour on the doors of her Saint-Nicolas Road property, Alexa Tymocko is the type of dynamic, entrepreneurial woman who can drum up a day’s worth of business before lunchtime! Mother, chef, manager, and owner – she has been almost everything in the business. We think she gets her energy from the vitamin-rich juices and healthy dishes offered at Crux Comptoir, and we were first in line to test the menu. Her new additions to the menu are Alexa’s response to adapting her restaurants to today’s context vis-à-vis the pandemic.
“Following the closure of our two locations, we needed to rethink our offerings,” Alexa explains. “We created a “weekly menu”, which worked so well that I’m still going to keep it going forward. It’s a different way of eating; customers will choose their dishes ahead of time and can have them delivered or come on-site to pick them up.” For 55$, Crux Comptoir is offering a deal that changes each week: warm and cold dishes, with a drink and a dessert. But you can also build your own meal from the weekly and regular menu items. The juices responsible for the establishment’s popularity are also available and can be ordered in units of six. “Those really take me back to our beginning days in 2014, before we opened our stores, but now our menu has become much more diversified!” exclaims the businesswoman.
“Our biggest challenge was definitely adapting our business model to work online. We work with extremely short deadlines, but at the same time, we have to inform people ahead of time. So, we are proposing two pick up times per week. For us, that means two batches per week, with around 3 or 4 work days for each order,” Alexa expressed. When we asked her if they were ready for that, she gave a big laugh and said: “No, not really, but we have to adapt. If you can’t adapt, you won’t stick around. What has really helped is that we already have our website. On the other hand, my husband and associate, Rénald, and my machine operator have now become our delivery drivers! That has allowed me to maximize their hours, but now we need to look outside for more help, as the volume of orders is growing more and more!”
Obviously, the food service industry has always had very strict sanitary guidelines, which the crew at Crux Comptoir has doubled down on. “We have increased frequency of hand washing, as well as equipment and material disinfection. We have also implemented a system where each employee has a dedicated workstation with his or her own tools and utensils. And of course, everyone wears a mask,” Alexa notes. Before the growing volume of orders, she was able to remind certain employees who have seen their homes for a while of ways to work, which ended up being a big time-saving measure. “I also followed up with them about what they do outside work. I promise, I’m not a control freak!” she supplies with a bright laugh. “Honest, we’re all really close. But it is essential for me that we all stay conscientious and responsible, even outside of work. It is crucial to the health of our clients and employees, as well as the survival of our business.”
“I think we’re pretty avant-garde. We’ve always wanted to set ourselves apart, and think about things differently. In February, we began to revise our whole menu to become 100% vegan with our chef. We have continued along that road, but the interesting thing we’ve found is that among our new clients – those who have found us online and have yet to set foot in any of our stores – they have asked me more questions about our super-fresh concept than about vegan cuisine. Not all of our customers are vegan or vegetarian, but they appreciate the freshness and quality of our menu, and that has been very encouraging for us.” She, who hasn’t backed down for a second, explains further that compared to the growing order volume, their software is just not up to task. But they have applied for assistance with the PACME; one more file to oversee!
The situation itself may have brought in new clientele, but this success can also be attributed to Alexa’s determination to not skimp on her social media presence. She has shared her successes, appetizing photos, and sharp words. “I am transparent, I show everything we’re doing and that we’re still here. We need to interact with our customers outside of just in-store, and those customers are on social media.” She was also recently interviewed by LCN to speak about her challenges as an entrepreneur. She doesn’t have a schedule and is always on the frontlines. Her motherly heart breaks a little, but she determinedly pulls herself together to say: “My infant doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s always with us. But my first boy, Édouard, has really felt my shorter absence, but he has learned how to live with having an entrepreneurial mother in the service industry.”
Crux Comptoir’s food packaging is all recyclable or biodegradable, their supplies are as local as possible, and for the company, each bio-friendly gesture counts. The issue of food waste came up in our conversation. “I think that people still don’t have the habit of planning their meals in advance, but for us, doing so really allows us to limit food waste, which lines right up with our values. That also makes it so we don’t inflict the pain of fruit and vegetable price hikes onto our customers, and since we don’t use any processed ingredients, it remains a great choice for the consumer’s health and budget, as well as for our planet.” Alexa finishes.
When it comes to forming her recipes, you can really count on her inner gourmand! Alongside her chef, they create savory vegetarian menus that are as local as possible with just the ideas in their heads: “We have brainstorming sessions in the morning where I take inspiration from the dishes of my childhood. We then take that and turn it into dishes that I endeavour to make both surprising and comforting.” And then her family gets to test! Her little 9 month old hasn’t graduated from the juices yet, but her oldest samples the dishes with great pleasure. “I always surprise them!” She also cooks with her boys at the house; a great compromise of developing a business and spending family time together. Over the course of weeks, their dessert menu has grown: now including brownies, muffins, and chia raspberry squares. “Ah yes, you’ve noticed!” she says with a coy smile. “Yes, demands for our sweet goods are really on the rise, be it for as a snack or as dessert. Another growing demand we’ve adapted to each week!” Alexa concludes.