June 10, 2022

Entrepreneurship, History and Community: The Story of SOUPS2GO and The Lass & Ladle

We started to write our own success story feature on one of our outstanding Community Futures Program clients, entrepreneur Terry Carruthers, when we received this wonderful letter. We thought Terry should relate her entrepreneurial journey in her own words.

“I recently attended an event where I was asked about Northumberland CFDC and their involvement in SOUPS2GO and The Lass & Ladle. The answer is simple: without their involvement neither of these companies would exist. When I say this, I am not speaking just about the incredible start-up loans and grant programs I was set up with. I am talking about the financial advice, mentoring, and business support I received from Kim Botrie and the entire team at NCFDC. I am speaking about the emotional and financial backing that gave me the courage to pursue my dreams.

When the banks were not enthusiastic about a first-time entrepreneur (with great credit history—just not enough of it) NDFDC was there. They asked the right questions and had the right solutions. They believe, as I do, that offering to help start up viable small businesses helps us all, as a community, as a province, and as a country.

While SOUPS2GO began in 2019 out of a passion for healthy and hearty meals, The Lass & Ladle Restaurant first came into existence out of necessity. With the Covid19 pandemic raging on and looking like there was no end in sight, I found myself making soups and hot meals out of a municipal outdoor kitchen building in Grafton, Ontario. I had created five temporary positions for people looking for work, at a time when there was NO work. When the time came that I no longer would be able to use the building, I struggled to make sense of where I found myself.

Could it be that it was over?

I loved my team and preparing meals but even more so, we loved that during a very dark and distanced time we were bringing a community together… through food.

What happened next happened very fast: a call to local entrepreneur and owner of Ste Anne’s Spa, Jim Corcoran, about an empty heritage building he owned in downtown Grafton, led to me sharing my vision. This resulted in an offer to sell, and the beginning of a great friendship with Jim. He believed in my business so much that he was kind enough to even keep my staff employed at Ste Anne’s Bakery while I completed renovations on my new space. That generosity made all the difference.

With finances secured through NCFDC (and a lot of conversations with Loan Manager, Kim Botrie) as well as an inheritance from my parents quickly changed the vision to a reality. And I can honestly say that the community were almost as excited as my team! I wanted to create a space that paid homage to the original building erected in 1835 and build a tribute to all the hardworking men and women who passed through those doors… paving the way for entrepreneurs like me. The community was proud to share family photos from days gone by for me to display in this beautiful piece of living history.

I was incredibly blessed to have my own marketing manager, who took our social media presence to the next level. This job takes dedication and time and is very much a part of our success. While we have remained a takeout-only establishment, social media brought us into homes on a daily basis.

The development of SOUPS2GO products (especially now that The Lass & Ladle location doubles as our production facility) has taken us to another level. With our products in Foodland Cobourg, as well as several other markets, and for sale in our own store, we also now have the freedom to use our hot-serve kitchen as a test market for new soups and entrées.

My staff has grown from four to fourteen loyal team members in less than a year. The ability to create those jobs is hands-down the thing that I am most proud of. The Lass & Ladle is fortunate to have created eight ‘first jobs’ for some of the best students and individuals you’ll ever meet.

Terry Carruthers - The Lass and Ladle
Terry Carruthers – The Lass and Ladle

Because I was born and raised in Nova Scotia, the one thing I was adamant about was making sure people received more than they expected. Growing up, we always cooked big hearty meals, and I wanted that to be part of my restaurant. I also knew I needed to introduce the community to the best beer-battered fish & chips they’d ever tasted. I grew up not far from the first Alexander Keith’s Brewery, so using that beer in my fish and chips, and battering by hand every day, were essential. To date we have sold over 5,000 orders, so the people have spoken! My parents would be so proud of that.

And I am so fortunate to have a family member, my sister-in-law Nancy, as the driving force behind all things ‘pastry and deserts’. She is an amazing cook and even better friend. She holds a lot of things together for me.

There certainly have been challenges with opening a business during a pandemic: supply chain issues, astronomical price increases, uncertainty, fear, and much more. Through it all though, the community and NCFDC have stuck with me. The success of this business is due to the fact that I have learned to have the right people in the right places. The best suppliers, the correct accountants, the right team, and the very best support group of friends, family and mentors I could ask for. That includes our CFDC.”

Terry Caruthers

SOUPS2GO and Lass & Ladle Restaurant

With the support of FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada, NCFDC is proud to advance entrepreneurs like Terry, who make our communities the thriving, wonderful, vital places that they are, through their entrepreneurial efforts. We’ll see you this summer on the picturesque porch of The Lass & Ladle in the beautiful village of Grafton.

“Terry is a positive force and a hard worker; she is very committed to her community. Terry is not afraid to take a risk and try something new. She adapts well as situations change. Through many obstacles Terry has kept focused on her goals and kept product quality a priority. Her ambition in opening The Lass & Ladle was to provide her community with a delicious menu and a great experience. The food she prepares is an extension of the love she has for her community and people in general—and I believe her genuineness and strength of purpose contribute greatly to her success.”

Kim Botrie

Loan Manager, NCFDC

Learn more about the Community Futures Program in Northumberland (click here) and how FedDev Ontario initiatives like RRRF invested $83.3 million in rural small businesses across southern Ontario during the pandemic. CFDCs provided regionally tailored financial and business advisory support services to nearly 1,800 businesses to navigate the uncertainties of the pandemic and empower businesses to continue to grow into the future.

The talent behind the digital marketing and promotional efforts was Ryan White of Blackdog & Crow.

Photo credits: Mira Knott, Knott Studios.

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