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Rankin Inlet’s Sugar Rush Café goes up for sale

Rankin Inlet entrepreneur turns attention to food-supply business

By PETER VARGA

The Sugar Rush Café in Rankin Inlet, which owner Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham has put up for sale to focus on her northern food-supply company. In her eight years as owner, Tootoo-Fotheringham expanded the café into a restaurant with a full menu, with a focus on including “healthy options,” she said. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SUGAR RUSH CAFÉ)


The Sugar Rush Café in Rankin Inlet, which owner Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham has put up for sale to focus on her northern food-supply company. In her eight years as owner, Tootoo-Fotheringham expanded the café into a restaurant with a full menu, with a focus on including “healthy options,” she said. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SUGAR RUSH CAFÉ)

With two demanding businesses to run, Rankin Inlet entrepreneur Tara Tootoo-Fotheringham has decided to back out of her longest-running venture, the Sugar Rush Café, to shift her full attention to her newest project, the Arctic Buying Company.

“I’m one person who wants to expand and do more things, and running two very needy businesses doesn’t make for either doing well,” said Tootoo, who put the restaurant up for sale in mid-July.

The Arctic Buying Company is Tootoo’s most recent venture in a string of businesses in Rankin Inlet that included a successful family-owned bed and breakfast, and video surveillance equipment business as well as the Sugar Rush Café.

Opened in 2000 as a café, Tootoo bought the establishment with the property in 2005. In her eight years as owner-manager, Tootoo expanded its offering, growing the café into a restaurant with a full menu and catering service.

On top of coffee, pastries, hamburgers and fries, much effort went into including “healthy options” on the menu, she said. The restaurant offers a selection of soups, salads, and a variety of dishes ranging from pastas and roast chicken to an extensive selection of sushi and other East Asian-style cuisine.

“With Rankin Inlet growing, somebody may want to do more with it,” she said of the restaurant. “That’ll be their focus, and the opportunity is there now.”

The restaurant will be operating as usual for as long as she owns it, Tootoo added.

“Certainly when we know any more and we’ve made a decision [on the sale], we’ll definitely let the public know, so they can be aware,” she said.

“All I can say is I’m so, so appreciative of the people of Rankin Inlet and other people coming and patronizing our services and being a part of our growth, and our legacy, really,” she laughed. “Without the clientele there would be no business.”

Tootoo, a married mother of three, added she is also thankful for residents having chosen the restaurant and catering service for big family events, such as weddings, birthdays and funerals.

The Sugar Rush Café is in a 2,137 square-foot building. Tootoo has put up both for sale, which were assessed at $800,000 in 2010, she said. The restaurant can accommodate up to 45 guests.

Tootoo’s goal to open healthy food options through the restaurant will follow through to a greater extent — at the territorial level — with her food supply company. Now in its second year of operation, the Arctic Buying Company ships groceries from Winnipeg to customers in Rankin Inlet and elsewhere in the Kivalliq region.

Offering healthy food with discounts through the federal government’s Nutrition North program is the shipping company’s mission, she said, and it is now set to do so throughout the territory.

“We plan to expand to all Nunavut rather than just focusing on Kivalliq, so I need my time to be freed,” said Tootoo. “We want our customers to see all their options, and choose from their options based on their budget.”

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