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'It's kind of the first sign of spring in Winnipeg:' BDI opens for 60th year

Bridge Drive-In opened for its milestone year on Saturday, also signalling spring to many area residents who lined up for a treat.

Braeden Jones/ Metro

Spring felt closer than ever as the locally famous BDI ice cream stand opened for its 60th season over the weekend.

The sun was shining both Saturday and Sunday as temperatures hovered near and just above zero degrees, while a steady lineup of patrons got their cool sugar fix from the old drive-in as it came out of hibernation.

The small ice cream shop’s moniker may stand for Bridge Drive-In, but like co-owner Justin Jacob says, “once people see BDI open it’s kind of the first sign of spring in Winnipeg.”

Jacob said the seemingly endless line-ups on the opening weekend is an annual occurrence, fuelled by a parfait-like combination of nice weather, BDI’s winter hiatus building a pent-up demand, and hype that builds online whenever he announces the opening date.

“It’s all kind of tied together, hand-in-hand,” he said. “We always try to look ahead for the first nice weekend of the season to open.

“Then it builds—it’s known to come that way: weather warms up, then BDI opens, and that’s the sign spring is here.”

It’s that simple. Snow melts, sun comes out, birds start tweeting, BDI tweets once, and then the line-ups don’t stop all weekend.

“Once word got out we were open we had a huge line up already,” Jacob said. “It’s pretty crazy, but we’re keeping up okay.”

In addition to being a harbinger of spring, BDI is also a community fixture, with a legacy Jacob is happy to be carrying forward.

“It was 1957 the first year of kind of the ice cream stand as we know it,” he explained.

The responsibility of managing a beloved community fixture doesn’t weigh on him, though. Standing in the back of the shop while his team rushes like mad to dole out classic treats like the Goog and Cantaberry, he’s actually wearing a smile from ear-to-ear.

“You go from a pretty quiet winter to opening up at BDI and it all changes,” said Jacob, who's also an accountant. “I know it seems really crazy back here right now, but you miss the business.” 

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