By Mallorie Rast
In the face of the hustle and bustle of our 21st century world, there is one place in Kindersley that provides a relaxed atmosphere and serves up hand-crafted ice cream with a smile.
Located on Main Street across from the Red Lion, Swirl Cafe, an ice cream and coffee shop provides not only an artistic and serene atmosphere for a coffee date with your friends, it also provides food crafted by staff who are genuinely interested in how your day is going.
As I walked through the door, a tasteful accent wall bearing the company logo greeted me. Artwork from Saskatchewan artist Jade Prior decorated another wall, and handiwork from locals in another corner completed the optimistic ambience. Co-owner and Operations Manager, Jeff Santos greeted me with a warm smile, and soon I was sipping a complimentary Iced Vanilla Latte while Santos shared the history of the newly-opened cafe. “Swirl has been three years in the making,” he said with a chuckle. “And I am so thrilled that we have finally been able to open to the community.”
Swirl Cafe started out with modest beginnings and a different name. Three years ago, Swirl consisted of a folding chair, a portable freezer, a table for fixings, and a shade canopy. Under the name Swirl Ice Cream, the small stand would set up during some weekends and during town and non-profit events. Customer feedback planted the thought of finding a space to open year-round, so when 609 Main Street came available, Santos, plus four others, his wife Anne Santos, and three friends, Dennis Azurin, Melanie Barlaan, and Lester Narciso, pooled their creativity and resources together to open Swirl Cafe.
The team eagerly planned to open in April, in time to be just ahead of the warmer weather and the rush for summer-time treats, only to have COVID throw a kink into their plans. “It was a time of crumpling up a plan and throwing it in the garbage, and writing a new one, over and over again.” Santos recalled that there was even a time in which the team doubted that they would be able to open at all.
Fortunately, Kindersley had no cases of COVID and the team was able to have their grand opening on May 17th. Santos’ voice portrayed emotion as he recalled the overwhelming community support. In fact, business was moving so quickly that the team decided to expand to hire on five more team members.
Now, the cafe hums with activity as members of the community come in, not just to order a coffee, or treat themselves to a home-baked brownie or hand-crafted rolled ice cream, but to make a personal connection. “I love being here in North America,” said Santos, who immigrated from the Philippines to the Kindersley area 10 years ago, “but I want to create something more than just ‘hello, here is your coffee and goodbye.’ I want to create an experience for the customer.”
In line with Santos’ vision, the Swirl team members not only greet you with a smile, but also with a genuine “how is your day going?” Ice cream and coffee drinks are not just made, but are hand-crafted with love. “It is not about the number of sales,” Santos stated emphatically, “it is about the customer knowing that we see them and we care about how they are doing.”
The wooden sign attached to the modest exterior holds two simple words, “Swirl Cafe,” but behind those two words lies a heart for community and a passion for showing that each individual, small or great, matters.
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