Two female entrepreneurs are working hard to make sure residents of the Orillia area who live with dietary restrictions have somewhere to purchase a variety of delicious foods that they can eat.
Janet Paquin Watson and her daughter Jessica own Low Carb #1 Stop on Rama Road. The bright, inviting space stocks a wide variety of specialty foods for those following a keto, low-carb, gluten-free, diabetic, lactose-free or other restricted diet.
The store came about as Janet followed a keto diet. “I couldn’t find anywhere locally to get the foods I needed,” she said. “I had to drive a long distance or order online, just to eat what I needed to be healthy.” Janet felt there must be others who were in the same boat and decided to open the store for everyone in that situation. “People are thrilled to be able to come and see the foods and pick them out for themselves,” she said.
Janet also stocks ready-made meals for those in need. “So many people are on the go, and so busy, and they just need a healthy meal that’s there for them, with their restrictions in mind,” she said. “We have keto meals currently, and would love to expand that line to just healthy meals in general. I have a couple of chefs who make those up for me,” she added.
The meals also come in handy for families where one family member is on a special diet. “That way, everyone can eat together, sharing similar items, and no-one feels left out,” said Janet. She also makes sure she has special foods in for different holiday meals, as well as sugar-free items for dessert and treats.
Prior to opening her business, Janet received support and guidance from Carol Benedetti and Dan Landry from the Orillia Area CDC. “Carol helped me get my business license and my food license,” she said. “And Dan gave me a lot of advice and pointed me in the right direction to find phone numbers for different places I needed to talk to and made sure I was reaching out the right people. They were both so friendly and approachable, and thought of things that I didn’t know.”
Jessica has spent a lot of time on the store’s website. There are photos of everything that’s available, and an easy-to-use ordering system. “You can order everything we have, and then pick your order up, have it shipped or delivered locally,” she said. “This also helps save people time and hassle.”
The pair still have lots of ideas for expansion and development, despite only being open since November 18, 2022. “I would love to do baked goods, special low or no-sugar birthday cakes and fresh items like that,” said Jessica.
“We would love to do a food truck with healthier, low-carb options in Tudhope Park, and Dan pointed me in the right direction as to who to talk to about doing that,” said Janet. “I would like to offer low-carb hot dogs, sausages, turnip and celery fries, sugar free slushies and sugar free cotton candy. I would love to have that approved for summer,” she added.
Thanks to these entrepreneurs’ drive and determination, and with the help of the Orillia Area CDC, Low Carb #1 Stop is open and thriving. Check it out today at https://www.lowcarb1stop.ca/s/shop or visit in person at 6036 Rama Road.
To find out more about the Orillia and Area CDC, go to the website here https://www.orilliacdc.com/. The Orillia Area CDC is one of 36 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) supported by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to help rural businesses be the best they can be.
Photos by Anna Proctor