By ALEXANDROS VAROUTAS
Mocha Mocha’s new location at 64 Kingston Rd. is already nourishing the neighbourhood with a selection of lively and healthy meals, all made in-house.
Drawing from Latin American and African flavours, you can expect to find a variety of light and healthy options such as their warm brown rice salad, spicy chick-pea guacamole, ham and cheese crepes, turkey club sandwich, and Nicoise salad to name a few.
Owners Marijan and Mercedes Tripkovic explain that the Latin American influence on the menu comes from them.
Mercedes is a chef with a lifetime of experience. In 1989 she participated in the 1989 Canadian Culinary Masters competition where she won a silver medal for her individual entry.
Her family is Japanese but she was born in Peru. Together with Marijan, she owned a successful Dutch-style pancake house in Lima called Palachinke.
When the two of them came to Toronto they brought with them a love for fresh and light flavours.
“What we offer here is healthy food. We don’t use lots of meat,” said Marijan
Although there is meat on the menu, it plays a complementary role rather than being the main attraction. They also don’t serve heavy, deep-fried foods or lots of carb-heavy ingredients to fill you up. Even the bread they do use is organic.
“The food is made from scratch,” said Mercedes.
When asked about the African flavours on the menu, they explain that the staff at both locations play a big role in the culture of Mocha Mocha.
With some employees who have been there for 25 years, it feels more like a family than a constantly changing group of employees.
Many of the employees come from Ethiopia and Eritrea and are given a lot of autonomy which allows them to bring a piece of themselves into their work. Sometimes, they’ll suggest a recipe and, if it gets tested and goes over well, it can find a home on the menu.
One of the most popular examples of this is doro wat, an African chicken stew that has become a favourite among regulars.
This type of variety is something Mercedes and Marijan cherish about their menu.
But this isn’t to say that the menu is always changing and shuffling around. The goal is to have a stable, focused set of offerings so that customers know what to expect.
Marijan said that the majority of their customers are regulars who count on Mocha Mocha for a convenient healthy option in the neighbourhood.
Their original location, located at 489 Danforth Ave., opened in 1991.
At that time, foot traffic in the area was nothing near what it is today and some doubted that a business offering fresh and healthy food would survive on a street dominated by grilled meats and flaming cheese.
Thirty years later, it’s hard to think of a business that would better suit a neighbourhood full of fitness studios and gyms.
The reason they chose the Beach neighbourhood for their second location is that many of their regulars already lived in the area.
The demographic of young families and professionals on the go is the perfect fit for a business that provides convenient and healthy meals.
Marijan and Mercedes always wanted to open a second location but they wanted to wait until they found the right spot before taking the step. When they finally opened their doors in October of 2021, they remembered what it was like when they first began.
“It’s fun to open another one,” said Marijan. “You forget how difficult it was, but it’s going to work OK. Like every beginning, it’s going to be challenging.”
Although for now he and Mercedes have their hands full getting this location off the ground, it doesn’t seem like they plan on stopping any time soon.
“Nowadays you don’t want to retire. It [wouldn’t be] fun anymore,” said Marijan.
For information on Mocha Mocha, please go to www.mochamocha.ca or call the Kingston Road location directly at 416-699-8700.
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