After serving delicious homemade ice cream for nearly 20 years, founder of Dee Dee’s Ice Cream Ditta Kasdan is ready to retire. She assures her loyal customers that the Cornwallis Street institution is in good hands. Filling Kasdan's shoes are Jenna Mooers, co-owner of CHKN CHOP and Lindsay MacPhee, owner of the Floatation Centre.
Kasdan says it was “really important” to choose new owners that share the values she runs Dee Dee’s with. These include hiring within the neighborhood, using local ingredients and a commitment to environmental sustainability. “They really value what Dee Dee’s has come to be, and if you value something, you're going to take care of it,” Kasdan says, “I feel super excited and confident that they’re going to do something wonderful.”
Mooers, who has many years experience in restaurant management under her belt, says Kasdan has been a role model for her as a business owner. Before opening CHKN CHOP, Mooers owned Edna Restaurant and managed her mom’s restaurant Jane's on the Common. She says she’s “honored to carry on what Ditta worked so hard to create.”
“I grew up in the north end and now I live a block away from Dee Dee’s, and I just feel like when people think about that area… for most Haligonians Dee Dee’s comes to mind. It's just a really wonderful community spot that kind of brings the city together, and I'm just happy to be a part of that,” Mooers says.
The new owners aren’t planning to make any big changes to the iconic shop. “The only change, actually, that we are thinking of doing is starting to accept credit cards,” Mooers says. They’re retaining all of the “amazing” current staff and won’t alter the “beautiful” ice cream.
Ownership of Dee Dee’s will change hands in mid-June. Mooers has been working in the shop for the past few weeks, learning the ropes from the staff. While MacPhee will run the “more external communications” side of the business, Mooers will be scooping ice cream and rolling burritos. “I'm working on my muscles. It takes a lot of arm work to scoop ice cream!” she says.
Meanwhile, Kasdan looks forward to a “simpler life” for her retirement: hanging out with her grandkids, building a cabin in the countryside and gardening. A moment that sticks with her from Dee Dee’s is when a customer said to her, “you're not only an ice cream shop, you're actually creating community.”
“She really thought of Dee Dee’s as a place that was creating community in a world that is more and more divisive and less inclusive and so that was really close to my heart. I felt good about what we were doing,” she says.
And with Mooers and MacPhee at the helm, that community is here to stay.*
* We’re big fans of Dee Dee’s at The Coast. We recommend their Mexican chocolate, banana cardamom, and chai flavours.