Sweet! Concession stand at Virgil arena is finally open again

Skates? Check. Coffee? Check. Snacks? Also check.

For the next four months, anyone heading to the Meridian Credit Union and Centennial Arena can indulge in coffee, tea, cold drinks and a variety of snacks from the Sweets & Swirls Cafe concession stand.

The stand officially opened on Dec. 27.

James Cadeau and his wife Erinn Lockard, owners of the Sweets & Swirls at the NOTL Community Centre and now at the arena, are excited for this new opportunity.

Cadeau talked to the town between 2018 and 2019 about opening something up in the arena, but then the pandemic hit.

The stand had been closed since 2020, with the exception of volunteers opening the stand during the Ice Dogs fundraiser game in September.

He recalls seeing new Lord Mayor Gary Zalepa and a few other council members at the game.

“When they took office, they said, ‘We need to get this open,’ ” said Cadeau.

The town then approached Cadeau and his wife and asked them to open the concession stand for the next four months, until hockey season and figure skating are over.

“We said, ‘Yeah we’ll give it a shot,’ ” he added.

It’s a touchy business model, he explained.

Most concessions around the province have been closed for the last few years and many haven’t opened back up. Or the ones that have reopened are run by volunteers.

“The way that it might work for us is because we have that other location and we have kids at the right age (to work), (so) it might work out for us,” he said.

In announcing the change, the town said it will look for a permanent concession operator in 2023. If the next few months work out, Cadeau said they’ll consider submitting a proposal.

The concession stand will be open during the town’s public skating, figure skating activities and NOTL Minor Hockey games. Cadeau is also planning to open the stand for Jr. A Niagara Predators home games on Fridays.

“We’ll try to accommodate everybody’s situation,” he said.

Their children, Liam, 15, Daphne, 12, and Sofie, 14, as well as some of their friends are assisting the couple at the concession and at their other location.

In addition to cold and hot drinks and snacks, Cadeau hopes to have breakfast sandwiches during early-morning hockey tournaments.

“So it’ll just depend on how busy we anticipate it as to how many items we have to offer,” he said.

Lockard is known for her cookies at the community centre’s location and often is referred to as the “cookie lady,” so they plan to sell baked goods at the concession stand, too.

“(We’re) happy to be here and happy to contribute something back to the community,” said Cadeau.

“Because it was really the people of the community that kept us going through the last two and a half years,” he added.

Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report