KAMSACK - The Dixie Cups ice-cream shop and café in downtown Kamsack has officially changed hands as of March 1. The new owners say they intend to keep the Dixie Cups name and most of the current employees will remain on staff.
The turnkey business was purchased by Yorkton couple, Priya Sinha and Gaurav Thakur from previous owner, Matt Kutsak, of Fort Qu’Appelle. Kutsak is also the owner of Matt’s Furniture and a number of residential properties in town.
Stepping into the Kamsack business community, Sinha and Thakur, both have master’s degrees in business administration. As a majority stakeholder, Sinha received support from the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) organization which is funded by the Western Diversification Program. She plans to manage the business – leaving all of the favourites on the menu, including breakfast items, burgers, pizza, 24 flavours of ice-cream, and a lot more. In time, Sinha hopes to add a few special items to the list that showcase her Indian heritage cooking skills.
“I have always loved to cook,” said Sinha. “This has been a dream of mine – to create a place where people can get together for a coffee and a chat, enjoy good food and good company. Now that restrictions have lifted, we are very excited to restore the tables and chairs and invite people to come down to enjoy the return of the dine-in option.”
Listening to the details of what it took to complete the Dixie Cups purchase – it sounds like it has been a whirlwind adventure for the young couple. Back in November, Priya had flown to India to spend some personal time with her family. She had planned on staying for up to six months, but her interest was piqued when Gaurav sent photos and videos of the ice-cream shop that had been for sale for over a year in Kamsack.
“I had reached out to Gladys Secondiak, a local realtor,” said Gaurav. “I knew that Priya had a dream of operating a small take-out food business, and when Gladys, (with the help of Jackie Sklar) showed me Dixie Cups, I just knew Priya had to see it. She flew home earlier than planned and we have been working non-stop to iron out all of the details.”
A number of hoops had to be cleared before the couple could officially take ownership. Once the matter of incorporating the business was handled, there was short, unexpected delay in securing insurance.
“Getting a food establishment insured during a pandemic proved to be a challenge. But we finally did it,” said Gaurav. “Unfortunately, the café had to be closed for two weeks until that came through. But, we’re open now and ready to welcome guests – just in time the restrictions have lifted in Saskatchewan.”
Sinha and Thakur said they knew each other as children – growing up in the same Indian neighbourhood. After dating for 16 years, the couple was married in 2017. They are now proud parents of a three-year-old son, Kabir, who was born in Yorkton where the couple purchased their first home.
“I moved to Canada as an international exchange student in 2011,” said Thakur. “After living for one year in Ottawa, I moved to Moose Jaw to study at Sask Polytech and shortly after, I landed my first job in banking.”
Today, Thakur works as an Economic Development Coordinator for the Yorkton Tribal Council where he specializes in First Nation business and economic development.
“I love my job,” said Thakur. “I plan to continue working with the YTC and offer as much support as I can while Priya takes the lead in daily operations at Dixie Cups.”
Sinha arrived in Canada in 2015. She initially lived in Swift Current.
“For many years in India, I was working in media sales and on the side as a content creator - for a hobby,” said Sinha. “I wrote more than 500 articles – reviewing beauty and skin products for one of the country’s biggest beauty blogs.”
In 2016, Sinha decided to train at the Blanche Macdonald fashion, make-up, and beauty school in Vancouver where she earned her certification as an esthetician and Spa Therapist. Until recently, she has been working as an esthetician at a spa in Yorkton.
“Saskatchewan has been great to us,” said Sinha. “We have accomplished a number of major life goals in this province. First, we married and we bought our first house in Yorkton. We welcomed our son, Kabir, and now we have purchased our first business. We feel so fortunate.”
The couple said they are incredibly grateful for all of the community support they have received. Plans for an official grand re-opening will be announced in the coming weeks. Dixie Cups is now open daily from 9 am to 9 pm.