By Chris Illich
Like most business ventures, ideas tend to come to mind much earlier than the actual execution. That couldn’t be more the case for St. Catharines’ newest addition to the downtown core.
KW of Rescue Dogs first had the idea to start a vegan hot dog and street fare cart that donated a portion of its proceeds to local animal rescues over four years ago, but it didn’t come into fruition until December of 2015.
“I spent a lot of time developing the idea and I was going to open it last March when I first moved to St. Catharines, but I got a job at Rise Above. I always wanted to work there. I love that place passionately,” KW said.
“I stopped working there in September, and my partner Vic and I decided that it was something that we really wanted to go forward with. I’m a big organizer and planner, so I kind of put it all together and tried to finally figure it out. We’re one month into it and it feels very surreal that its actually happening because I actually started this idea four years ago.”
There were a couple hoops to go through to get the cart up and running. There were the licenses, the health requirements to be met, the recipes, and perhaps most importantly, the location.
Rescue Dogs is located at a prime spot in downtown St. Catharines, right on the corner of St. Paul St. and James St. The area is starting to gain traction, with Beechwood Donuts (who bake the Vegan buns for Rescue Dogs) and boutique shops such as Craft Arts Market and Mindbomb Records just around the corner. Not to mention that the walkway to the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is right across the street, and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre is just within eyesight.
“It kind of worked out for us because it really is the only spot in downtown that we were able to find a location. St. Catharines has a limited amount of downtown liscences for Hawker and Peddler’s and it has to be on private property. This is one of the only spots downtown where you could have a hot dog cart. It’s the most perfect spot in St. Catharines,” KW said.
had their first “Sneak Preview” of their menu at Bella Noella’s on November 29. They prepped themselves for the event, but had no idea the kind of response that was awaiting them.
“I opened the doors at 4pm and there was about eight people waiting in line and I thought that was really nice. After we served the first three or four people there was a line out the door and around the corner and it stayed that way for the first three hours. I can’t even begin to start describing how amazing it was,” said KW.
The event gave Rescue Dogs the opportunity to test-drive their menu. In addition to their classic dog, Rescue Dogs offers a vegan sloppy Joe made with TVP (textured vegetable protein), their “Sloppy Jane” or “Jane Doe” which features the TVP and a homemade vegan cheese sauce, and their “Hexwitch”, which is their take on the traditional BLT but with tempeh strips instead of bacon. All the items are homemade and the hot dogs themselves are hand-rolled.
“Basically our menu consists of what I would want to eat from a street vendor,” said KW. “We’re planning on changing our menu in the future to include some sort of burger, and in the spring and summer I want to be able to add some avocado and other things to just keep things fresh.”
After only one month of being situated on the downtown strip in St. Catharines, Rescue Dogs is gaining in popularity. On one side, people seem very responsive to the fact that they openly support and donate to Animal Rescue groups with every sale, on the other, the food really stands out.
“I think as a city, St. Catharines seems to be more socially conscious than the average Canadian City,” said KW. “I have been very humbled by the response from the City and the support we’ve gotten.”