OTTAWA -- As pandemic restrictions start to ease, Ottawa’s outdoor markets are offering up innovative ways to connect customers with local businesses hit hard by COVID-19.

The Parkdale Market in Hintonburg has started a new night market, which is open every Wednesday 4 to 8 p.m. all summer long.

At Hungry Babe Vegan Food, sales were brisk at the night market. Tina Bardon, a former grocery manager, started the local vegan prepared foods company in 2020. She was not sure what to expect but the evening went well beyond her expectations. She sold out in just two hours.

“It’s so nice to see people who eat your food and they want to come back again to try everything that you are making,” Bardon said. “I’ll be here every Wednesday this summer.”

Parkdale night market

The executive director of Ottawa Markets, Zachary Dayler, says he is looking forward to the new season and he thinks people have a renewed excitement for being outdoors after being under lockdown for so long.

Ottawa Markets oversees the Byward, York Street and Parkdale Markets.

“It’s really exciting to have the markets beginning to be open, it’s going to take some time for them to get fully in the swing but we have taken the time over the pandemic to rethink how we are providing a market and public space,” Dayler said.

“It’s not going to be your typical market experience, but we will get there as the summer goes on and as the reopening effort goes on we hope that we can bring back buskers and other entertainment.”

Along with the Night Market, the Byward and Parkdale Markets are open seven days a week 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the new York Street Farmers Market is open Saturdays 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.