Written by Jan Davies
Kyle and Nelda Jones run Flossie’s Sandwich Parlour.
They started last year and were pleased with its success, despite the business having no fixed address – but that’s all changed.
Kyle cheerfully admits he was a little headstrong when he bought a food truck without totally thinking it through. “It’s a concession trailer, like a food truck without the engine,” Kyle explains. “I was eager to move here, set up all over the place and get going, but you can’t just do it like that. The County has regulations, which is as it should be.
“I was forewarned,” he laughs. “But I guess I like to do things the hard way.”
Having discovered he could not set up his food truck just anywhere, Kyle had to get more creative. “It was a good thing, really. I did farmers markets and pop-ups, went out and pounded the pavement to get people to try my stuff and ended up casting a much wider net from Belleville to Picton.” Along the way, TV and radio personality Carson Arthur, a gardening expert with a newly opened gardening centre, tried some of Flossie’s food at a pop-up. “He offered me a permanent space in his new operation on Wilson Road.”
They could have set up on their own Salem Road property, but that’s a quiet spot, and Kyle likes to be out in the thick of things. “We secured a spot at Wellington Market in 2018 and we’re going to keep it, even though we’re much busier this year. We owe a lot to that market. It’s a brilliant place for exposure and we want to stay there as long as we can.”
WORKING WITH CARSON
Carson Arthur is a regular feature on CityTV’s morning show, a gardening guru, radio call-in show host and a big fan of Prince Edward County.
He’s just opened a garden centre-with-a-difference on Wilson Road that is a garden design hub featuring high end products, specialty and heritage plants and local vendors and entrepreneurs, including Flossie’s Sandwiches.
“He’s done an amazing job,” says Kyle. “It’s gorgeous and going to bring people together. We’re thrilled to be involved. Wilson Road is becoming a bit of a hotspot. It’s a really good midway spot in The County, between Wellington and Picton.”
HOW FLOSSIE’S BEGAN
Kyle dreamed of running a sandwich shop and Nelda was supportive. “She’s the real entrepreneur in the family,” says Kyle. “Nelda is a silversmith, although she had to put it aside when Jack was born. Can’t have soldering and fumes in the house with a baby around.”
Nelda, wrestling a wriggling Jack, agrees. “I’ve put it on the back burner, but it’s part of why we moved here. I worked 17 years in the hospitality business, and I bartended, so obviously I’d heard about Prince Edward County. I was intrigued by the Arts Trail and I wanted to know more about it. So when we were visiting family in Ottawa we took a detour to The County and drove through Bloomfield. I just stopped and said “This is it! This is where I want to live!”
Although Nelda has put her jewelry on the back burner, that burner is still very much on. She’s still managed to produce enough work to not only have her stuff in The Merchant’s Mill in Consecon but also will be showcasing some newer pieces in The Local Store in Bloomfield.
Kyle and Nelda got married a couple of years ago. It was a hasty wedding; Jack arrived three days later. They still hope to have a “proper wedding,” but that, too, has to wait until the dust settles from moving and establishing Flossie’s.
“It’s been hard for me with the baby, but it’s fun to be Mr and Mrs Jones,” Nelda laughs.
How did they meet? “She was my bartender,” says Kyle. “I didn’t own a bar, I was just a regular and fell in love with her but didn’t have the gumption to ask her out. Luckily one day she asked if I wanted to go get some food with her. It’s funny, I don’t drink at all now, but I’m glad I did then or we would never have met.”
Things happened fast. “We went and got that food, moved in together, bought a house, had a baby and moved here. Nelda pointed out I could start a sandwich shop anywhere, so why not Prince Edward County, where the Arts Trail is.”
Nelda says, “I grew up in a small town and was eager to get away. I loved living in Toronto, it served my purpose, but now I want to be back in small towns but still have some culture. I figure if I’m going to move out of the city it should be to somewhere with things that interest me. I like wine, I’m interested in the wine industry. I want to do my silversmithing and be part of an arts community.”
Prince Edward County ticked a lot of boxes and their first visit confirmed it.
Kyle and Nelda want their kids to be able to go out and play in the dirt, like they did when they were young. “We have a house with nine and a half acres in Consecon,” says Kyle. “We’ve got a bunch of outbuildings, too, and I’ll turn the one closest to the road into a studio and workspace for Nelda, so she can be ready for the Arts Trail.”
Their neighbours are Brian and Jane Walt, and Kyle was surprised and delighted to discover they’d moved next door to a top notch beef and pork farmer and a maple sugar shack, too.
“It was awesome,” he says. “Brian came knocking on our door and I, being from the city, was a bit wary and skeptical, but they turned out to be the most wonderful people, and they’ve been so good to us. Their produce is amazing. People always ask where I get my beef, because you can really taste the difference.”
Kyle believes great local ingredients give Flossie’s Sandwiches their character, and he wants to make use of everything The County offers. Carson is building them a chef’s kitchen, though Kyle says quickly, “I’m no chef! I’d call it a kitchen garden which will be great for growing ingredients onsite. We already grow Swiss chard in our garden, and Thai basil which can be hard to source even in the city. Nelda loves her pho.” One of Flossie’s star sandwiches is the I-Thai, an Italian style panini featuring Thai basil and balsamic glaze. “I like making fun sandwiches, things you won’t see elsewhere. I get creative and make everything from scratch and do different cures with my bacon and peameal.”
Kyle laughs that he has a bread story he loves to bore people with. He’s kidding. It’s not boring at all. “In Ottawa there’s a sandwich shop called Di Rienzo’s that I loved. Everybody still goes there, it’s famous, and I recall the bread was amazing, second to none. When we started Flossie’s here I needed a bread supplier but places we tried were either not what we’re looking for or didn’t supply restaurants. Then I walked into Wellington Bakery and met Joe, who looks kind of intimidating but is as sweet as the stuff that goes across his counters. We chatted and I discovered he’s from Ottawa, too. He used to have the Richmond Bakery. He was the baker for Di Rienzo’s! Joe is supposedly retired, but he’s really busy. It’s incredible to me that I end up working with the guy who baked my favourite bread when I was a kid.”
PLANS FOR NOW AND THE FUTURE
The community has been overwhelmingly welcoming. “We didn’t expect that,” Kyle marvels. “To be so welcomed and encouraged by everyone including people you think would be competition. Even if our products overlap, we compliment each other, and I guess no single operation can serve everybody!” he laughs. “Having like-minded people who work with each other and help each other, is great. I don’t think you get that in many places. People lend you equipment, give you advice, refer people to you.”
Nelda was drawn to Prince Edward County because of the buzz and says, “Niagara on the Lake has wine and art, but it’s very established, not as cutting edge as The County. I like the fact young people are coming here.” Baby Jack was a deciding factor, too, and they are amused that one of his first words was ‘tractor.’
“I’ll do my silversmithing again, once he’s old enough,” she says. “For now I’m baking for Flossie’s, but I have a dream of maybe planting an orchard on our land, keeping sheep. It’s like a 10 year plan.”
As well as working at Carson’s operation they will keep their spot at Wellington Market. “It’s so much fun and we love the people there, and we have regulars,” says Kyle. “I’m going to reel the menu in a bit so I can handle it myself. I’ll feature Nelda’s cookies, do one or two sandwiches and sell my bacon and peameal. I should be able to get back to do the truck for the afternoon and the rest of the week.”
They do catering, too, and say that’s what kept them afloat in the winter.
“We did a Flossie’s Feast at Home, which was Nelda’s great idea,” says Kyle. “It kept up awareness of Flossie’s. Every Sunday we posted a pre-set menu, maybe braised short ribs with potato patties on Wednesday, something different for Friday, and people could pre-order and pick up. We started with dinners for two and four, but people asked for single portions or bigger family orders. In fact our single portions are big enough for some couples, we like to give quality and quantity. The Feasts grew into catering and we already have gigs lined up for this summer and into 2020.”
Kyle calls Nelda his rock. The one who talks him down if he’s too high and up if he feels low. “She keeps me grounded,” he says. “And we’re hiring someone this year. Lana was a farm hand with Thyme Again Gardens, she was a professional cook and can cook circles around me. We get along great. She’ll work the truck with me at the market, and she’s working with Carson, too. There’s a 15 year old neighbour lad I want to put to work, too.”
It sounds like a lot. But they’re young and full of energy. “We might not be able to do the market every single week,” Kyle concedes. “But we want to keep our spot, and I think we can do it. Maybe not every single week, but we’ll keep a presence there and use it to tell everybody what else we’re doing! We’re being sensible and not taking on too much catering. We’ll focus more on that in the shoulder season. It’s going to be great. We’ve really started something good here, and we’re going to make it work.”
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