Lindsay Taub, the owner of Sundae School, reflects on what it’s genuinely like to be the official “Ice Cream lady” of Beechwood
“Watching the kids (and grownups) choose their ice cream is one of the best parts of owning an ice cream shop. People are generally excited to get ice cream. It evokes a nostalgic, happy feeling that reminds people of when they were children. I love seeing how thrilled the children are to see so many candy options. I love seeing parents delight in knowing they’re about to share a treat with their kids. I love it when the kids are told they can have more than what they were expecting. It is truly heartwarming to be part of this special experience for the community. I am very proud to have created an opportunity for people to come together on Beechwood. Beechwood lies at the crossroads of five vibrant and diverse communities, and everyone loves ice cream, so I truly feel that we have an incredible opportunity to serve so many people. When I created Sundae School, I envisioned contributing to my community. It’s been such a thrill to see people coming from all over the city (and even from other cities) to visit us.”
Beechwood Avenue, Montreal Road and McArthur Avenue each offer unique flavours
Where in Ottawa can chefs find a full-sized octopus, the perfect cut of locally sourced meat, authentic Mexican food and dozens of other dishes and ingredients from around the world?
The answer is simple – come to Vanier.
“I get a kick out of being able to have the products for everyone.” – Filipe Correia, Mario’s Food Centre
“Whether it’s Norwegian Cod, Portuguese sausage, pastries, olive oil – I try to have everything that someone might be looking for,” Filipe Correia says about his store, Mario’s Food Centre, located at 381 McArthur Ave.
Mario’s Food Centre opened its doors in 1964. While many things along McArthur may have changed over the years, Correia says one thing remains the same: The selection of food carried in his store.
The shop sells Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish food and attracts customers from across Ottawa and as far away as Montreal, Correia says. Once, he even received a call from a woman overseas who was about to fly into Ottawa and wanted to stop by the shop for groceries.
“She wanted to make sure I had what she was looking for,” he says. “People come from all over and I get a kick out of being able to have the products for everyone.”
Mario’s Food Centre isn’t the only unique stop along McArthur – the street is peppered with businesses offering delicious options.
One is a personal favourite of Correia’s – YKO BBQ Chicken, located a few doors down from his own store. Correia admits he eats there more than a few times a week.
McArthur Avenue is a bit of an international food quarter of Vanier, he says.
From Indian cuisine, Greek food, pizza, ice cream, Middle Eastern products and the All Africa Market – a trip down McArthur Avenue gives visitors a chance to taste food and ingredients from around the world.
“We all complement each other,” Correia says.
MONTREAL ROAD AND BEECHWOOD AVENUE
However delectable the wares offered by McArthur Avenue’s merchants might be, Correia notes that there are many other mouthwatering temptations in other corners of Vanier.
Mainstay dishes on Montreal Road include pho, pizza, shawarma, smoked meat and authentic Mexican food.
But the experiences are not limited to simply tasting the neighbourhood’s delicious food. There is also an opportunity to learn how to make it yourself.
Macaroon shop Quelque Chose Pâtisserie hosts French macaroon classes at its flagship shop at 274 Montreal Rd., offering aspiring bakers the chance to learn from the pros.
Meanwhile, Andrew Muckleston – the proprietor of Beechwood Avenue butcher Muckleston and Brockwell – says he offers classes at his shop to help people learn more about what they are eating, where it comes from and hopefully gain a new respect for butchery.
The hands-on experience helps individuals learn about the cuts and how the meat can be used.
“It’s a great experience for all skill levels,” Muckleston says.
Muckleston’s shop sources its meat from small-scale, local producers. Understanding the origins of his products helps him easily answer his customers’ questions.
“People want to know more about what they’re eating and where it came from,” he says. “That the food you are eating is top quality, ethically sourced, local, hormone and antibiotic free – something that you really can’t put a price tag on.”
SconeWitch owner Heather Matthews, who never eats a scone that is more than 10 minutes removed from the oven, recalls the mission she set for herself early on in life.
“Why did I pick scones? That’s an easy one. Ever since the ’70s, when muffins became the thing,
everywhere you went you got a greasy muffin – and there is nothing wrong with a muffin – but
I thought, ‘Why doesn’t someone do scones?’
At the time I had other businesses, and sometimes we would make scones, and every time they
would be gone. They would sell out. So I said, ‘If I ever start a business, it will just be scones.
Because, really, everybody loves scones. It was then I decided it was my mission to bring scones
to this world. Now we make over 2,000 a day by hand … but I wasn’t sure if I had really made it,
if I was successful until one day a Scottish gentleman came in and wanted to speak with me. He
came up to me and said (in a Scottish accent) ‘My mom makes the best scones.’ (Heather
pauses for dramatic effect) ‘But yours are better!’ Well, I knew I had made it then.”
Manager Julia Norris and her staff share their favourite requests from customers and why they love working on Beechwood Avenue.
Meghan Laver, on her most unique order:
“Our clientele varies greatly, so there’s always something interesting happening here – someone once asked me for a “deconstructed latte” so they could build it at their table themselves.”
Anastasiya Gorodnicha, on four-legged customers:
“The community here is so welcoming and nice, but the dogs here are the best! They always have smiling faces and are eager to be out and about. I’m so happy to see them walking around happily with their owners.”
Joanie Rheaume-Bond, on Vanier’s unique feel:
“This neighbourhood is just like a small town. Everybody knows each other and there is truly a sense of community and it is nice to be part of that and to be part of people’s routine … The Beechwood clientele is nice and eclectic, which makes it fun!”
Julia Norris, on what makes working in Vanier special:
“I got into the coffee business through a friend of my sister’s. I worked at that shop for about two years and fell in love with the culture around coffee shops. The best part of working on Beechwood is the customers. There is such a diverse range of people who come into the shop and it’s always nice to get to know them.”
Property audits among measures available to merchants
The Vanier BIA is arming its merchants with the tools they need to become leaders in crime prevention this summer.
The BIA recently met with the area’s community police officer, Crime Prevention Vanier, the Vanier Community Association and local merchants in a proactive approach to reducing crime in the district.
“The BIA and its merchants understand the important role we play in crime prevention,” said Nathalie Carrier, the executive director of the Vanier BIA. “Our approach is to get our merchants the tools they need to contribute to crime prevention,” she added.
The BIA will be offering monthly tips and advice for merchants looking for guidance or new ideas in how to make their business – and wider community – safer.
This work builds on several existing projects and partnerships, including those with the area’s community police officer, Cst. Vianney Calixte, to conduct audits under a program known as “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.”
These audits help identify physical and design changes that can help reduce crime, such as cutting back overgrown shrubs, improving parking lot lighting and creating better sightlines around a property.
“We all understand that a safer neighbourhood is not only good for its people, but also for its businesses,” Carrier said.
Simply adding lighting is one of the most common suggestions made by Lucie Marleau, the founder of Crime Prevention Vanier. A well-lit parking lot is far less likely to attract undesirable activity than one shrouded in darkness, she said.
Marleau has worked to improve safety in the community for more than a decade and created Crime Prevention Vanier to complement the work undertaken by Crime Prevention Ottawa.
“Experience has taught us that our crime prevention efforts can only be effective and sustainable if every actor plays their part,” Marleau said, explaining that it takes more than just police officers and city officials to make an area safe.
“No crime happens in a vacuum, and each crime touches all of us living (and) working in Vanier in tangible and less tangible ways,” Marleau said.
This team-based approach is also embraced by the Vanier Community Association, which supports the BIA’s efforts to share crime-prevention tools with merchants.
“Business are an important part of our community, and our residents are part of their clientele,” said Lauren Touchant, president of the community association. “We are deeply interrelated therefore, we all have a responsibility to keep our neighbourhood safe and we hope these tips and tricks will better equip business owners.”
Keep an eye out for the latest crime prevention tips and tricks in the BIA’s monthly e-newsletter. Businesses can also visit CrimePreventionOttawa.ca or ensemblepourvanier.com for a full list of crime prevention tools.