Chilly Willy’s Troubles Not Over Yet

Jody Wilson at Chilly Willy's in 2014.

There could be a new operator and vendor at the John Rhodes Centre if the City decides to take another proposal on the restaurant and sports bar at the east end facility. That’s the recommendation from the city staff.

Chilly Willy’s owned and operated by Jody Wilson will remain at the John Rhodes Centre until May, after that he will have to compete with other interested parties to stay in business. That’s what Sault Ste. Marie city council voted in favour of on Monday night.

Earlier this summer, Chilly Willy’s faced off with the Library board for the space and won when public pressure and support for a restaurant at the facility gained momentum leaving the Library board to pull the idea off the table.

The lease with the City and Chilly Willy’s ends today but will carry on as usual until the end of the current hockey season.

Council voted in favour of staff recommendations to put the space up for RFP (Requires For Proposals) Voting in favour were Ward 1 councillors Steve Butland and Paul Christian, Ward 2 Councillor Susan Myers, In Ward 3 Brian Watkins, Ward 4 Lou Turco, and both Ward 5 Councillors Frank Fata and Marchy Bruni and as well as Ward 6’s Joe Krmpotich.

Those against the resolution were Mayor Debbie Amaroso, Ward 2 Terry Sheehan, Ward 3 Pat Mick. Rick Niro from Ward 4 declared a conflict.

Ward 2 Terry Sheehan believes current owner, Jody Wilson should have been given a chance to make improvements to the business. Council had several options to pick from. Council could have chosen to renew the current lease or re-negotiate with the current tenant (Wilson) or issue an RFP.

“Council’s job is to get the best restaurant it can in that location and the best deal it can for taxpayers,” said CAO Joe Fratesi

According to reports, there has been other vendors wishing to bid on the lease.

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Craig Huckerby is a seasoned broadcast and media professional with over 43 years in local media. Starting in television, Craig became known as "the weather guy" on local television before pioneering internet media in the Sault. Craig is credited for bringing local television back to the Sault via the internet in 2003 with LTVNEWS.COM and was instrumental in launching and Craig is happy to be part of the Sault's newest media team of ONNtv and Craig has also won numerous International Film awards for director of the documentary, "Was I Next?, The Sean Cribbin Story"