WINNIPEG -- Bridge Drive-in, better known to Winnipeggers as BDI, is reopening for the season with a special twist for health-care workers.

Starting Saturday, health-care workers with a hankering for ice cream can enjoy a free cone as a special thank you from the local ice cream shop.

"Me and my wife actually came up with the idea; my wife is actually a nurse practitioner," said Justin Jacob, who co-owns BDI with his wife.

Jacob's wife has been working at the RBC Convention Centre vaccine clinic and administering COVID-19 tests at St. Boniface Hospital.

"We kind of wanted to do something for a lot of the health-care workers and just make sure they're recognized even though it's just a small gesture," said Jacob.


Opening on March 6, it's the earliest the stand has opened in Jacob's seven years of running the business.

"This time of year, we always check the forecast to see what it looks like," he said. "The weather switches so fast that you need to be ready to flip the switch and get to work."

Last year, the store didn't open until May and had some difficulty in finding a pandemic-friendly system of ordering.

The early opening is sitting well with ice cream lovers.

"We are super excited. When we came here, we didn't actually know we were going to be first," said the lucky couple who got the first cones of the day. "We feel really lucky."

Jacob said he hopes to get the mobile BDI unit out on the streets this season and have a more regular year than the last one.