Yellowknife’s newest business wants to bring good vibes and wellness to the community, and healthy eating too.

Good Vibes YK opened its doors on Tuesday to customers seeking protein shakes and energy drinks.

In addition to energy and body-boosting drinks, the 48 Street cafe-style establishment also serves protein-packed waffles and doughnuts.

‘Overwhelming reception’

“The reception and the welcome feeling that we’ve got is overwhelming. Everybody is embracing a new business and definitely embracing our service,” said Matt Picard, who owns the eatery with his wife Lucy Do.

Matt Picard adds chocolate syrup to a mixing bowl for donut batter. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

Originally from Montreal, the pair had been living in Iqaluit for several years before they began preparing to set up Good Vibes last fall.

They moved here permanently on Jan. 24.

Even though the pair didn’t do a grand opening on Tuesday, their reliance on word of mouth, foot traffic and social media presence brought them 50 customers on the first day.

Twenty more just dropped by to breathe in the sweet aromas of baking and take a look at the Tron and Miami Vice-inspired signage and arcade games reminiscent of the 1980s and 1990s.

“They bring back childhood memories of going to arcades. It was a good time of having honest fun,” Picard said.

Promoting wellness

The name of their business jibes with its purpose: encouraging wellness, nutritional health and fitness.

“We want to promote that for people coming here who want to better themselves and better their diet, that they’re getting it through a good vibe,” said Picard.

Their main offering is shakes that are high-protein, low-calorie and dairy and gluten-free. The shakes contain 230 to 270 calories, nine to 11 grams of sugar and 28 grams of protein.

They also serve energy drinks that contain herbal teas and natural ingredients with no sugar or calories.

The Pac-Man and Marvel Superheroes arcade games are part of the 1980’s vintage style at Good Vibes and remind Matt Picard of the good times he had playing in arcades when he was growing up in Montreal. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

“They have some ginseng and taurine, an ingredient in Red Bull. But we removed all the byproducts usually in drinks like Red Bull and just use things that are healthy,” he said.

The doughnuts and waffles have a maximum of 300 calories and up to 30 grams of protein.

Picard describes his offerings as enhancements to peoples’ diets.

“For folks who don’t have time to cook or who are on the go, they can take a shake from here and then have a salad on the side.”

Pandemic presents opportunity

Picard dismisses the notion that it’s risky to open a cafe-style business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandmeic has closed down certain avenues and opened others. For niche-type clientele I think this is a perfect setting,” he said. “People have more time on their hands now. They have more time to better themselves. I think a lot of people have chosen the health and wellness avenue and eating well. I think this is an in-demand service that hasn’t been established here yet. I used to work as a fire medic and one thing they teach you is you have to adapt and overcome. I think that suits well this current setting we’re in now, as a collective to adapt and overcome.”

Health and wellness in the pricing

Picard and Do’s commitment to health and wellness extends to their pricing. They offer discounts of 15 per cent for members of law enforcement, military, firefighters, emergency responders and front-line health workers.

Members of any gym receive 10 per cent off, and not just members of Breakaway Fitness that sits above Good Vibes.

Active people who aren’t members of gyms but who join organizations like running clubs also can receive that discount.

Keeping it local

Just days shy of their first four months in Yellowknife, the Good Vibes owners love the city and want to leverage as much of the community as possible into their business. They shun tap water. Instead, they use water and ice sourced from Tundra Transfer. Contractor Side Jobs constructed the interior of the business while Capital Signs made the logos. Picard used Buffalo Airways to fly in materials he couldn’t find locally.

And expansion is possible, if his business proves successful.

“I hope I am busy enough that I can create some local employment, that I can create nutritional plans and (nutritional) coaching further,” Picard said. “I have a back room that has space that I could open up to make my space bigger.”

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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