Ottawa’s Sundae School sweetens Beechwood retail mix

New eatery draws endorsements from local tech leaders
Sundae School founder Lindsay Taub
Sundae School founder Lindsay Taub (Photo by Ashley Fraser).

Strolling with her husband and newborn baby near their New Edinburgh home last summer, Lindsay Taub suddenly came up with a sweet business idea.

As liveable as the thriving neighbourhood just east of downtown Ottawa already is, Ms. Taub concluded it was missing a bit of flavour – of the dairy kind, that is.

“I think on a nice summer night, there’s really something special about being to walk down to your local main street and go get some ice cream with your friends or with your kids,” the budding businesswomen says. “We don’t have (an ice cream shop) in our neighbourhood and I really wanted to bring that to my community – a space for people to gather, to enjoy an experience. Eating ice cream kind of makes you feel like a kid again.”

A psychotherapist by profession, Ms. Taub, 33, was on maternity leave from her job at Crossroads Children’s Centre and decided to make her ice cream dream a reality. Earlier this year, she leased space in a new commercial development on Beechwood Avenue, a few blocks from Richelieu Park, and got to work setting up shop.

The resulting venture, the cleverly named Sundae School, is set to open in the next couple of weeks. The store’s proud owner is sure it will be an unqualified blockbuster, calling it “an investment in our community.”

“Everybody loves ice cream,” Ms. Taub says. “It’s the perfect treat. It’s sweet, it’s rich, it’s creamy. It’s such a fun thing to eat – even in the winter.”

She’s gotten plenty of encouragement from her husband, Harley Finkelstein. The chief operating officer of Shopify, Mr. Finkelstein is one of the key architects of the e-commerce giant’s success. But Ms. Taub says it was really his credentials as an ice cream aficionado that were more compelling in this particular business case.

“Harley loves sundaes, so he certainly had an influence in my decision to specialize in sundaes,” she says with a chuckle. “He’s got lots of experience with retail, obviously, but he’s never owned a shop like this before. I’d say his ice cream expertise was more relevant.”

When looking for product, she sought out a local supplier and found just the one in Carp Custom Creamery.

“It was really important to me that we use a local Ottawa company,” Ms. Taub says. “My sister-in-law lives in Carp and she had told me about this place, Carp Custom Creamery. I knew that this had to be the one that we sold.”

Ms. Taub is contributing the homemade toppings, with flavours such as hot fudge, salted caramel, peanut butter and mixed berry on the menu. Although it hasn’t officially opened for business yet, Sundae School is already earning top grades on its Facebook page from those who’ve gotten a chance to sample its dairy delights – including local tech leaders such as Fluidware co-founder Aydin Mirzaee and Fullscript CEO Kyle Braatz.

“These are our friends, so it’s very nice to have (their reviews),” Ms. Taub says. “Because as you know, tech and ice cream go hand in hand. I think ice cream goes with everything.”