Nicky Poloski’s kids were literally sick of their school lunches.
Her boys, who had food sensitivities, were getting sick from the lunches they were being served at school so she started cooking up special meals. Their health improved.
Her quest for wholesome, healthy meals made without processed foods, turned into a business idea.
Poloski, who has a "green" streak, and her business partner Christy Kabbani, who loves to cook, founded Two Mothers Foods. A business that seeks to offer "clean" food, that is made from food free of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or rendered animal products.
When the women started the business, initially they were only providing food for school lunch programs, including the private school their children attended.
“After that year, we thought why don’t we see if other people would be into it,” Kabbani said.
In September 2010, the women opened the carry out restaurant located on Naperville’s far northside on Route 59 near Diehl Road. The shop has a few tables for those who might want to dine in, but is geared toward offering healthy take away foods, some of which are gluten free, soy free, dairy free and cholesterol free.
Adding to the “free” part is the fact that the business is almost entirely waste free, the women said. A tour of the kitchen offers a glimpse into just how little waste is generated. While some restaurants need a dumpster for garbage, the business barely fills a small garbage can a week, Kabbani said.
“I knew I didn’t want to make garbage and that is how we got into the way we serve,” Poloski said.
The women wanted the business to have a minimal environmental footprint, which led them to use cloth napkins, mason jars for the carry out and to toss a minimal amount of waste in the trash.
Left over food scraps are used for compost, Kabbani said. They give some of the scraps to farmer friends who are able to use them. The scraps that aren’t compostable are sent to a pig farmer whose pigs are more than happy to enjoy the leftovers in their slop, Poloski said.
Two Mothers also supports local producers and tries to buy products from farmers within a 15-mile radius, though for some items they must venture farther away, Kabbani said. Along that line, the business also purchases humanely produced products. Poloski said she has visited the pig farmer the business buys from to ensure the animals’ living conditions.
“We are typically a vegan restaurant that serves a few meat dishes,” Kabbani said.
Items on the menu range from hummus and pizza puffs to pulled pork sandwiches, meatballs and linguine with clam sauce. Portions range from an in-store serving to 64 ounces, for carry out. The menu also includes desserts including black bean brownies and vegan chocolate chip cookies.
Along with the carry-out service, the business serves two schools and does special orders, she said. It also caters to wellness clinics and has also worked with a yoga studio when its students participated in a juice fast. Two Mothers also caters parties and weddings.
Last summer Two Mothers Foods enjoyed a nice bump in business when the production unit for the movie used its catering services over the summer, Kabbani said. One of the producers wanted healthy, organic food and sought out its services.
The business has a number of customers who have special diets, but the women said they are hoping more people will learn about their business. Both Kabanni and Poloski said they aren’t big into business and haven’t taken a lot of time to market their business. Though they have been happy with the business staying relatively small.
Since starting the business, Kabbani said she has learned that she likes being able to help change peoples’ ideas about healthy eating.
“Kids may eat a whole wheat pizza puff and they tell their parents they love it,” she said. “We open peoples’ eyes to good food and that it can taste good. … I like that [the business] creates minimal waste and that we are working with farmers and local producers.”
Two Mothers Foods is located at 1659 N. Route 59, in the 7-Eleven mini-mall.