Yellowknife’s Old Town will get a little sweeter this fall: an ice cream and coffee shop is set to open at the Sundog Trading Post.
Richard McIntosh and Christine Wenman own the Sundog building and Sundog Adventures, a dogsledding and tour company. McIntosh told Cabin Radio the couple plan to open the café by December this year.
“At this point, it’s just described as a coffee shop and ice cream parlour, where we’re going to be manufacturing our own ice cream on-site,” he said.
“As far as I’m aware, there’s no other café in the NWT that is making ice cream. I’m a pretty big fan of ice cream, and so is my wife. We thought it was an opportunity.”
Richard McIntosh with one of his sled dogs. Photo: Sundog Adventures
The new venture is a way to make money and sustain the business with tourism much quieter than normal during the pandemic.
The couple originally intended for the Trading Post to be something of a “tourism hub.”
“We collaborate with other tourism operators to offer one-stop shopping,” McIntosh said, “so people can book their dogsled ride, or airplane ride, or ice fishing trip. In order to drive business to those tour operators, we would open up a café, so people had a reason to come in.
“But now that tourism is all collapsed, the business model of partnering with other tourism operators doesn’t work. We still want to work with other tourism operators, but there are not hordes of tourists looking to book tours. So we needed another idea to generate revenue out of the building.”
Sundog’s food and beverage permit was approved on September 24. The building has been under renovation for months in preparation.
Next comes the work of dreaming up a café menu and ice cream flavours.
While it’s too early to nail down specifics, McIntosh hopes to eventually cater events and parties while selling pints of ice cream in grocery stores.
“There’s a lot of history of [the Sundog building] being used as a community hangout,” McIntosh said. “That’s our vision for the place – a friendly, welcoming environment where the community can come and enjoy some time and pick up a latte or a chocolate ice cream cone.”
This coverage of the NWT’s business sector during the Covid-19 pandemic is sponsored by the NWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment. Visit Buy North for more information on businesses near you.