Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

November 22, 2012

Lake Effect going to Canal Street

By Joyce M. Miles
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Lake Effect Ice Cream will relocate to 79-81 Canal St. after the Common Council on Wednesday OK’d the sale of the property to the artisan ice cream maker.

Lake Effect, owned by Lockport High School teachers Jason Wulf and Erik Bernardi, will buy the coveted property near the Pine Street bridge for $50,000. Although the city owns it, Greater Lockport Development Corporation will pocket the purchase money, according to the approving resolution.

Wulf said in a telephone interview Wednesday night that his business will vacate leased property around the corner from 79-81 Canal, on Lock Street, and open a full-service ice cream parlor. Ice cream production will be moved to Canal Street as well, he said.

The business, launched in the city in 2008 on nine exotic-sounding ice cream flavors, has grown quickly. Presently, Wulf said, it’s selling 13 varieties in pints, through 26 different vendors including Tops Markets, Premiere Foods, Niagara County Produce and the Lexington Cooperative in Buffalo; and roughly 30 varieties at its parlor. It counted roughly 46,000 customers from May through October this year.

The Canal Street property will provide Lake Effect with twice the space it had on Lock Street, Wulf said. A small addition will be erected behind the building over the winter. It’s expected that year-round ice cream production will occupy a bit more than half of the building, and the seasonal ice cream parlor the rest. Hopefully the doors will be open by late spring, he said.

Eighty-one Canal was an ice cream parlor when it was opened in 1912. The knowledge makes Lake Effect’s successful bid for the building even sweeter, Wulf suggested.

“We wanted a place in Lockport that’s iconic. We want it to be our flagship shop,” he said. “We feel honored to be there. (GLDC) has made choices not to put people there.”

GLDC oversaw the rehabilitation of four Canal Street commercial properties for the city and now manages and markets them. It’s entertained more business siting proposals for 79-81 Canal than the others combined the past few years.

This past summer, two proposals came in at the same time, Lake Effect’s purchase offer and a proposal by a hospitality vendor to lease the property and start up a business.

Mayor Michael Tucker, GLDC president, said both proposals were “incredible. Picking one was almost painful.”

Board member Patrick Schrader, 4th Ward alderman, said the board ultimately chose Lake Effect because “to buy is better than to lease ... and Lake Effect is a proven entity.”

Tucker said he’ll meet with the start-up operator next week to talk over other possible downtown sites for the business.