Local spotlight: meet the creator of inclusive new Happy Vibes Cafe

Get to know Kristina Ihme, the founder of Elliot Springs’ newest café, who is on a mission to create a more inclusive community!

Kristina Ihme, the founder and director of Elliot Springs’ new Happy Vibes Café, is on a mission to create a more inclusive community, one coffee cup at a time. We sat down with Kristina to learn more about her journey to starting the Happy Vibes café and what residents can expect.

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am originally from Germany, and came to Townsville to study marine biology, ecology and environmental Science at James Cook University. I’ve been working as a project manager and environmental scientist locally for 17 years now. In my free time, I love running the trails on Castle Hill, as well as diving, surfing, yoga, kayaking and anything nature based. I’m also a mother of two girls, aged 8 and 11. Both of my daughters are autistic...and will need support all their life. They are two beautifully pure souls.”

Why did you create the Happy Vibes Café?

When I learned that the unemployment rate in Australia for people with disability is 50% and that number is significantly higher for people with intellectual impairment, I began to think about what will happen to my children after school, or when I am no longer here.

I truly believe everyone has the right to work and make an income and that everyone has something to give. I also believe that workplaces should reflect the communities we live in. I am going to say something cheesy here: ‘I wouldn't change my children for the world, but I will try and change the world a bit for them’.  

From this vision, Happy Vibes Café was born! A not-for-profit social enterprise, boasting great coffee and a delicious family-friendly menu, the café provides inclusive employment and training opportunities for people living with disabilities. Everyone that works at Happy Vibes has a good heart and the team embraces everyone's differences, because what makes us different is beautiful and something to not just appreciate, but celebrate.   

What can Elliot Springs residents and visitors expect?

Located at The Hub, in Wadda Mooli Park, we have a breakfast and lunch menu which features hot and cold drinks, as well as smoothies and baked fresh treats and savoury, hearty lunch options There is also a grab and go kids' menu, including hot chips, nuggets, fairy bread, toasties, fruit salad and ice cream. We have seating options as well as bean bags for customers to chill out on the grass.

We use high quality ingredients such as Elevate beans from Speciality Coffee Trader in Garbutt, and Mungalli Creek milk and ice cream, as well as offer vegetarian and gluten free options. Residents can expect to see us throughout the year at Elliot Springs community events, such as the Chocolate Festival! We also offer event catering, so if you are planning on a birthday party at Wadda Mooli park or an event, we are happy to provide delicious food, plus we have a coffee cart that can get to your events and bring all the Happy Vibes to you!

What is your favourite thing about Elliot Springs?

When searching for the perfect location for the café, it was important to choose a location where all the facilities are accessible, and Elliot Springs checked the boxes! The Wadda Mooli Park playground is accessible for all abilities and caters for all ages - my children love it there. The bathrooms are wheelchair accessible, and you can be take a seat in a busy spot right in front of the cafe, or choose a quiet spot in the park, which again caters for all sorts of different needs.

Now open! A buzzing and vibrant café in the heart of our community

Happy Vibes Café is open Wednesdays to Fridays from 6:30-12pm and Saturdays- Sundays 7am-1pm, and is located at 2 Elliot Springs Boulevard, Wadda Mooli Park. Keep up to date and follow them on Facebook or Instagram.