At the Lockside Canteen in Shubie Park, Krista Leger of Lemon Dogs is serving up lemonade and tacos. The canteen has been open for the season since May and will be here until late October or whenever the water hits the freezing point.
Business for Lemon Dogs has expanded since its days at Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market where the company got its start.
“When I first started doing it, it was something just for fun on the weekends,” Leger says. “I wasn’t anticipating it was going to grow at all.”
Lemon Dogs opened shop in Shubie Park three years ago. They were offered the space prior to that, but a volunteer church group took it on. When offered the chance again, Leger took it on. When they started at Shubie Park, Lemon Dogs served the freshly made lemonade it became known for, but added gourmet hotdogs to the menu, too. But Leger says she knew she’d eventually switch to tacos.
She loves to cook Mexican cuisine and knows how to build tacos with different ingredients. She even spends a couple of months in Mexico in the winter learning new recipes. She says tacos are the perfect summer food because they’re hand-held, light, fresh and not as hot as other dishes.
“There are a lot of things that make it a nice food to have in the park,” she says.
Besides lemonade and tacos, Lemon Dogs also sells freezies and ice cream floats. The tacos are wrapped in gluten-free corn tortillas that are pressed on the spot. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally when possible. The lemonade in various signature flavours is also made fresh on site.
Lemon Dogs started when Leger and her partner, Jordan Schelew, were looking for a refreshing summer drink that was made locally. They joked about starting a grown-up lemonade stand and approached Alderney Landing staff with the idea. They invited them to sell lemonade on Thursday nights when there was free music at the market.
While they sold almost nothing that night, they thought the idea would catch on during the Saturday market. And it did. They started expanding to events, growing a clientele at the market and beyond.
Leger says the clients in Dartmouth have made them succeed, too.
“You really have to gain people’s trust here,” she says. “But when people become loyal customers, they’re really loyal.”
Leger says the Dartmouth business community, including the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission, has always been supportive of their work. She said she received lots of advice on everything from social media to events.
“They really help you get started and get the word out,” she says.
Leger says Lemon Dogs hasn’t been at the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market for a while. They stopped going after a stretch of bad weather on Saturdays in the summer last year. And then the Lockside Canteen at Shubie Park got much busier. They are considering going back to the market for Wednesdays.
She says for anyone looking to start a business in Dartmouth, Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market is a good place to consider because of its demographics.
“A lot of people go to the market, especially people interested in things made in Dartmouth,” she says. “I think that was an awesome starting off point.”