Miloš and Kristina Mlađenović went from selling out tarts at the Sooke Night Market to opening Island Tarts Café in less than a year.
For Miloš and Kristina Mlađenović, the Sooke Night Market has been a great place to launch a budding business while getting to know a new community in a new country.
The couple came to Canada from Serbia in 2021 to work at the Prestige Oceanfront Resort in Sooke. They didn’t know anyone but soon discovered that the Sooke Night Market on Thursday nights was a great place to mingle with locals and get to know the many farmers and producers in and around Sooke.
“We really loved the vibe, and we wanted to be a part of that,” said Miloš. “I love making tarts, so we thought we’d give it a try.”
They applied late in the season but were accepted by the farmers market, and Island Tarts was born.
“We started at the end of the summer and only did four markets, but people really loved the tarts, and we sold out each time,” said Kristina.
Each week, they doubled their batches and offered new flavours, but lemon tart, Miloš’s favourite, was a best seller.
With only a handful of markets under their belt, news spread about the new tart company in town and the resort they both worked at– Milos as a chef and Kristina as a front desk agent– offered them the opportunity to run a cafe in the hotel. They seized the opportunity and opened Island Tarts Café and Catering in spring 2023.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Miloš. “I know the backside and the recipes, but figuring out how to run a café and a business we’ve pretty much figured out on the go.”
The café offers coffee, pastries, paninis, and homestyle favourites like Serbian cornbread. They’ve expanded their line of tarts and now offer catering services. However, the farmers market remains an integral part of their growing success.
“We think it’s very good marketing for us, for our business, because a lot of people still don’t know that we have a coffee shop,” said Kristina. “Some people try a tart at the market and then keep coming back to the coffee shop.”
Last summer, Kristina and Miloš did 16 farmers markets, and they plan to do more markets in the future, expanding to new areas like Victoria!