Grand opening of CommUnity Café a ‘welcome addition’ to Lakeside neighbourhood

A staff member at the Bloom Skills Centre CommUnity Café serves Kingston City Councillor Wendy Stephen of Lakeside District. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell.

The staff of the CommUnity Café were all smiles today as they welcomed their first customers at the grand opening of the Bloom Skills Centre. 

The CommUnity Café, located at the Centre 70 arena, 100 Days Road, is a new eatery for residents and commuters in the Lakeside District. The café is the result of a Bloom Skills Centre social enterprise and education program which gives young adults with intellectual and developmental exceptionalities access to skills-based programming.

In this program, participants develop important skills in food service and customer service. Courses covered in the program include the Science of Cooking, Knife Skills and Utilizing Kitchen Equipment, Kitchen Fundamentals, The Science and Art of Baking, Social Skills and Customer Service, Brewing and Mixing: Non-alcoholic Mixology, and Food From Around The World.

Before opening the café for its first day of business, Amber Potter, Executive Director of the Bloom Skills Centre, addressed an assembled crowd of board members, members of the public, and dignitaries. Standing in front of the screened canteen counter, she moved smoothly through the thank yous but was overcome with emotion as she described the program and its beginnings.

“This is a huge deal… I’m going to try not to cry… If you know me, it makes sense that I am crying. This has been such a team effort,… such a community effort, and I’m emotionally moved by this,” she said, with tears welling in her eyes.

“The young people behind this door have worked so hard to get here… and this is really important programming. For those of you that know our community, that know people with exceptionalities, you understand how fundamental and how important this is. And we’re just really excited to be here.” 

Lakeside District Councillor Wendy Stephen gave a short address, congratulating everyone involved. “What an accomplishment. I think this is such a beautiful example of how the City and Independent groups can [come] together to bring something that’s so special to our community… I think we can all agree that we’re going to get a lot of use out of this place… and I think that you [provide] this beautiful transition for youth who are coming out of high school to have that soft landing, to have that support to build those skills. I think they’re going to be unstoppable,” Stephen declared, before making way for Potter to present the keen group of young people behind the screened counter. 

Amber Potter reveals the eager staff of the CommUnity Cafe, who were waiting behind the screen. Photos by Michelle Dorey Forestell.

“So, without further ado, the real stars of the show,” announced Potter, as the screen was lifted to reveal a group of smiling and excited young people, ready to present a glorious array of treats and beverages for the assembly.

The CommUnity Café’s menu features an assortment of grab-and-go and sit-down options for breakfast and lunch, including breads, pastries, and hot and cold items like sandwiches, wraps, cereals, and salads at very reasonable prices. Even the most expensive items, 3B Chili (Henderson Chili contest winner crowd favourite 2022) and the sandwich of the day with chips and a pickle, come in at a measly $5.00.

The items are aimed at drawing in commuters and giving a range of nourishing options for athletes and families who use the arena.  It is also meant to be a Lakeside community meeting spot where residents can easily walk to meet up and socialize.

In the summer, the plan is to open an outdoor patio where people can sit and relax while they enjoy breakfast or lunch.  It will also provide a shady refreshment spot for individuals and groups using the Lakeside Community Garden next door.

Potter thanked the many contributors to the project. “We have had some amazing sponsors — almost too many to list. There is a big sign on the door of some of the more organizational sponsors, but we’ve had so many individual sponsors [too]. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because this wouldn’t happen without community.” 

TheCommUnity Café is located at Centre 70, 100 Days Road, Kingston. To find out more, visit the Bloom Skills Centre website, or better yet, why not stop by?  The cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

6 thoughts on “Grand opening of CommUnity Café a ‘welcome addition’ to Lakeside neighbourhood

  • Congratulations!
    All the best for a successful and profitable adventure!

  • Wishing you all the best! Great idea and it looks like you are well organized. I plan to visit soon.

  • Best wishes to all of you and have fun too in serving your guests!

  • Congratulations! Wonderful program for staff and individuals who will use this Café. Wish all of you the best … and I will use this!

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