P.E.I. entrepreneur Dave Hyndman stands outside his new Deep-Sea Donuts venture on the Halifax waterfront. Hyndman has also had his Dave’s Lobster kiosk on the Halifax waterfront since 2015.
©MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
HALIFAX, N.S. - A P.E.I. flag flying in the wind would easily be at home on the Halifax waterfront these days.
Whether it’s a cool ice cream treat, a fresh lobster roll or warm baked donut, a group of three P.E.I. based takeout kiosks have become a dominant force in one section the bustling area, which is in the midst of a more than $200 million dollar revitalization.
“It’s almost like a little P.E.I. corner right here,” said Dave’s Lobster owner, Dave Hyndman, who opened a kiosk on the waterfront three years ago.
Halifax is a great opportunity for a P.E.I. based business. It’s a bigger market with more people, so if something works (in P.E.I.) and is a good concept
Hyndman’s kiosk also stands next to a brand new COWS ice-cream location.
And on the other side of the COWS booth is also Hyndman’s newest venture, Deep-Sea Donuts.
The booth’s concept is one Hyndman picked up while travelling through the U.S. and is complete with a “donut robot” conveyer belt machine with a viewing window that allows customers to see the donuts being made.
This is an entry in a series profiling P.E.I. entrepreneurs who have successfully expanded into Halifax. The rest of the stories include:
P.E.I. businesses finding success with expansions into Nova Scotia’s capital city
P.E.I. businesses in Halifax help promote home province to customers
P.E.I. expansions into Halifax helping grow new generation of entrepreneurs
P.E.I. fitness franchise doing well in Dartmouth, looking to Halifax
With Halifax and Charlottetown serving as Hyndman’s busiest locations, he knew the energetic waterfront would be an optimal place to test the new idea.
“Last year’s Canada Day was our busiest day (in Halifax),” said Hyndman, who acknowledged the large tour ship crowds offered in the boardwalk. “On a nice sunny day it’s just a sea of people going up and down the boardwalk. It’s really something.
“Halifax is a great opportunity for a P.E.I. based business. It’s a bigger market with more people, so if something works (in P.E.I.) and is a good concept, I think it stands a good chance of succeeding there.”
It appears that those crowds may only grow, with the waterfront expecting to host its busiest ever cruise ship season in 2017.
According to the Port of Halifax, there will be an approximate 274,000 cruise ship guests in the city this season.
However, even with the benefit of large crowds, Dave’s Lobster has managed to set itself apart in an area with plenty of dining options.
Coralee Nielson, of Eastern Passage, was just one new customer Hyndman has earned this summer.
She was previously unaware of the company before trying their lobster burger.
“I’m just a lover of lobster and I haven’t had one since probably Christmas,” said Nielson while ordering.
“It’s so delicious.”
The waterfront is also a seemingly perfect fit for the new COWS location, which opened its first ice-cream parlour in Halifax more than 15 years ago.
As Halifax mayor Mike Savage put it, the COWS brand has almost become “an institution on our waterfront.”
Jessica MacDonald, director of operations, noted that the original Halifax location has reliably been one of the busiest in the summertime.
“The lineups on a nice day are out the door and the retail sales we have over there is good, it’s definitely a huge spot for us,” she said. “And the locals are very accepting of us and excited (about the new location).”
Few brands have seemed to raise P.E.I.’s profile more than COWS, which has spread across Canada while still keeping its distinct P.E.I. flavor.
“Even before I’d ever been to P.E.I., I knew what COWS was because all our friends were wearing the t-shirts in school,” said Ottawa resident David Bullock while trying out the new location this summer with Jamie Schroder.
While Hyndman’s original business began as a success in P.E.I. before expanding outward, he’s hoping to one day bring his new Deep-Sea Donuts venture back to the Island.
“I had this idea and thought (Halifax) was the best place to test it, it has the most traffic,” said Hyndman. “And I know if it works here it will work if I find the right spot in Charlottetown.”
Ottawa residents David Bullock, right, and Jamie Schroder enjoy a cone of ice cream from the new COWS kiosk while visiting Halifax this summer. Bullock, who grew up in Ontario, was well aware of the popular P.E.I. brand even before he had ever visited the east coast.
©MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN
- Opened his first Dave’s Lobster location in Charlottetown for the 2014 season
- Expanded his operation into Halifax in 2015, with the two original locations remaining his busiest
- Hyndman has since added new locations in Cavendish and Saint John, N.B.
- His latest venture is Deep-Sea Donuts on the Halifax waterfront, a concept he hopes to eventually bring back to P.E.I.
- Originally founded in Cavendish in 1983 and makes all of its ice-cream from P.E.I. milk