Renovated Togo community centre opens after closing for nearly four months

Because of some federal funding and lots of volunteer support, a community centre in Togo re-opened Monday after significant renovations were completed.

The Silver Thread Community Centre was basically closed for business on March 20 due to the COVID-19 restrictions and it was decided to make use of the closure to make improvements to the main street facility which includes a Canada Post outlet, a cafeteria featuring monthly steak nights and is a venue for various community groups and functions.

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Meagan Strauss continued to sort the mail for the approximate 100 box holders while improvements were made to the facility.

“The boxes in the postal outlet have been re-sealed, insulated and painted,” said Strauss, who in addition to sorting the mail provides other Canada Post services including the sale of stamps and postal envelopes and boxes.

Mark Hischebett is the co-ordinator of the Centre and Lana Roman is an assistant, said Strauss, who also assists. “Mark is a volunteer, but helps at the cashier when it’s busy and orders all the groceries.”

Among the cooks at the cafeteria are Blanche Irvine, Lana Roman and Meagan Strauss. Sandra Klym and Cheryl Konowalchuk help out in the kitchen.

Jeff Airriess of Airriess Construction of Togo was hired to do the renovations, which in addition to the work at the postal outlet, includes the installation of a new kitchen sink, construction of new cupboards to contain buffet dinnerware and installing new countertops.

In addition, the Centre was able to employ Al Andrews of Togo to refinish the floor, Konowalchuk explained. Ten new dining tables were purchased and an old pool table is being re-done by a technician from Dauphin, Man.

The pool table is located in a former back room storage area that has now been fixed up as an overflow dining area, she said. The old tables were moved to the back room for the overflow seating, particularly currently, while customers are still expected to distance themselves from one another.

The cafeteria, which is licenced to sell beer and wine with food, can currently seat 28 people indoors, plus has tables on an adjoining deck for outdoor dining. The Centre is used by community groups for meetings and such events as the annual children’s Christmas party, the Remembrance Day service and as an election polling station.

A special table contains a display of handicrafts, proceeds from the sale of which go towards the kitchen fund.

The Centre functions with the support of many volunteers, Strauss explained. Currently volunteers are helping to get the facility open and when it is rented to a community group, it will be the volunteers that get it ready and clean it following the event.

“Now with all the extra cleaning needed due to the virus, volunteers are needed,” Klym said. “We have to be much more diligent with cleaning between customers who are being spaced at a distance from one another.”

“We have to keep everyone apart because if an inspector should come in and we’re not abiding by the rules, we could be shut down,” Blanche Irvine said.

The staff is pleased with the cafeteria’s regular menu, which includes breakfasts of eggs, bacon and sausages, and burgers “made so much better with the ingredient of TLC.” Fish and chips are prepared deep fried or grilled and customers have raved over Strauss’s homemade muffins, which are served still warm from the oven.

The volunteers and employees of the Centre are excited about the return of the popular once-a-month Friday evening steak nights. The first steak night of the season is being held Friday (July 10) when Al Andrew and Ralph Hilderman will be cooking 10-ounce boneless sirloin steaks on the barbecue located on the deck, beginning at about 4:30 p.m. Cooked to individual taste, the steaks are served with a variety of side dishes.

The cafeteria is open every day of the week at 8 a.m. It closes at 2 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. It stays open to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays because that’s the day the weekly bingo games are played, beginning at 7 p.m.

On Friday, because of a supper buffet, the cafeteria stays open to 8 p.m. It closes at noon on Saturdays and at 1 p.m. on Sundays because of the Sunday breakfast buffet.

Because of the current virus restrictions the buffet is no longer a self-serve feature, Konowalchuk explained. Customers wanting the buffet go to the front counter and ask a server to place the various foods onto their plates.