A Niagara entrepreneur with a new business venture known as The Blue Lady food truck is proof that you can take a girl out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the girl.
Nada Arnot, owner of The Blue Lady, spent the past 15 years living and working in New York with a dream of opening her own poutine shop.
Since June 1, The Blue Lady is open to customers at Palatine Hills Winery between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and at 299 Lakeshore Rd. between 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. daily.
Customers can also order online through the website blueladyfoodtruck.com or ordering app for a quick pick-up at either location.
“I’ve always wanted to open up a poutine shop, particularly living in New York where people didn’t really know what poutine was,” said Arnot.
“Every memory I have of poutine was either of being with friends or at a festival or summertime, but it was just really a good memory of both my childhood and young adult years,” she said.
After moving to New York, she realized there weren’t many places to get a poutine and “went a decade and a half without really having experience with it, but everyone that’s tried it that (she) introduced it to from New York loved it.”
“I just wanted to be a part of other people’s memories because I’ve always had a really fond connection to poutine and the association of being with friends and family,” Arnot said.
“I came to Canada really wanting to do this. I ended up meeting my partner and I said to him, 'Hey I really want to open this poutine shop,' and he thought it was a pipe dream but we started looking at some leases on Queen Street.”
“I said what I would love is to have a little shop with a food cart and he said, 'Well, why wouldn’t you just do a food truck' and then that was the beginning of the new venture,” Arnot said.
After looking for a food truck and finding The Blue Lady, Arnot said she just fell in love with it.
The previous owner purchased the truck when it was blue and operated under the name The Blue Lady. The food truck operated for two years in Oshawa before Arnot purchased it in March.
She said after bringing the truck to Niagara-on-the-Lake, the last couple months were spent with her partner Adam Bach revamping the brand, menu and experience.
“We took it and painted it bright yellow, so it’s a big ball of sunshine,” said Arnot.
“You’re not expecting the yellow truck to say Blue Lady. It’s a really cool looking food truck now. It’s almost like a little cafe on wheels.”
This is where her time spent in Brooklyn comes in, she said.
“I kind of wanted it to be a little bit hipster, a little bit premium.”
“It felt a little elevated,” she said. “There’s certainly a love and fondness for food trucks but it tends to be kind of a greasy-spoon experience.”
Arnot said the idea was to take poutine and hotdogs as a base and then add a different touch.
“Let’s put some artisanal playful food twist on it such as putting mac and cheese on it or making it a tex-mex style or even just having a trashcan of everything on it,” she said.
Arnot said more than just hotdogs and french fries are served from The Blue Lady. All the ingredients are sourced locally within Niagara Region and Ontario whenever possible.
“If we can’t get it out of our own garden then we get it from local suppliers,” Arnot said.
“If it’s not local within the Niagara region, they’re all Ontario-based and where we can’t do Ontario based then it’s definitely Canadian.”
Some of the ingredients include potatoes from Brenn-B Farms in Waterdown, buns from La Farina Bakery in Niagara Falls, hotdogs from Springer’s Meats in Hamilton and homemade sauces crafted with eggs and other ingredients from Arnot’s hobby farm.
She said she loves the Niagara-on-the-Lake community and integrating her family and business has been a great experience.
“So far the reception has been so great,” she said. “Small businesses are so supportive of each other.” New York was far more cutthroat, she added.
Arnot moved back to Canada with her children and they now live in NOTL's Chautauqua neighbourhood. She is still working her day-job remotely for AMC as general manager for the Sundance streaming service.