Brownies & downieS is the happiest, funnest, coolest food experience in Africa – where ability and disability meet! Serving fresh and contemporary home-style food, Truth coffee, and THE BEST BROWNIES in Cape Town, we welcome our guests into a homely atmosphere.

Your home away from home.

At the beginning…

Brownies & downieS started in the Netherlands in 2010 because of an idea that two friends had. Teun Horck and Thijs Swinkels realised their calling to help people with intellectual disabilities by opening the first Brownies & downieS in Veghel. They created a unique concept in the Netherlands and surrounding countries and have seen successful growth by over 40 stores since those early days.

How did this idea come to Cape Town?

Wendy Vermeulen, a Dutch social work student and the daughter of an entrepreneur, completed her internship in Cape Town in 2010. She saw a desperate need for facilities, training and employment after school for people who have an intellectual disability in South Africa. More urgent was her realisation that the public’s stigmas surrounding intellectual disabilities were misplaced. On her return to the Netherlands she took the initiative and contacted the founders of Brownies & downieS, who agreed without question to support Wendy’s dream of opening a non-profit cafe and training centre in Cape Town where people of ability and disability can learn and grow together.

The start of something beautiful.

She founded Our Second Home, an NPO which works together with Brownies & downieS to train people with intellectual disabilities at the cafe. Special-needs young adults are trained and integrated into jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors. Training while working in Brownies & downieS helps to break down long-standing stigmas and gives customers and special-needs adults the opportunity to meet and interact with each other in a fun and homely environment.

What have we achieved until now?

Our Second Home with Brownies & downieS won first place in the 2017 SABF Disability Empowerment Awards, was voted #1 Coffee Shop in Cape Town Centre by visitors on TripAdvisor in 2018, received a public service award in 2018 Oliver Top Empowerment Awards, and has successfully integrated 9 graduates from our work-training programme into employment. The future is bright for all at Brownies & downieS!


Our mandate is to improve the quality of life for the intellectually challenged, and to evolve the South African societal views and acceptance of these individuals into society. We want to create a welcoming atmosphere of love and acceptance in every outlet, and provide exceptional quality of food and dining experiences to our customers.

The vision of Our Second Home is to give young adults with an intellectual disability the possibility to live their lives just like every other person. We want them to be able to “live on their own”, and have their own job. We want to achieve this with flexible and professional guidance in their daily routine while looking at their individualized personal care plan.