When Wauseon’s skating rink reopens on Friday, expect some changes.
Now called the Wauseon Rollercade and Event Center, the building will display new interior paint, a scattering of wall-mounted televisions, booths for sitting, renovated restrooms, and a brand-new kitchen with a new menu.
The transformation is courtesy of the new owners, Sherrie Hamm and Darren Spencer, along with Deanna Smith, the manager and events coordinator. It’s a family affair, and they plan to take the Wauseon mainstay at 340 W. Leggett St. to a new level while maintaining an old-fashioned, safe environment for kids to roller skate.
“It’s not just a roller rink. There are lots of things that we are trying to make happen with this place,” Smith said.
A soft opening Friday from 7-11 p.m. will give city residents a chance to see the rollercade’s new features. The grand opening, with sessions Saturday from 1-3:30 p.m. and 7-11 p.m., will be a celebration of prizes and T-shirt giveaways. One lucky patron will win a year’s free admission.
As of this weekend, the rollercade’s fall and winter hours will be Wednesdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m., Fridays, 7-11 p.m., Saturdays, 1-3:30 p.m. and 7-11 p.m., and Sundays, 1-3:30 p.m.
More space will be featured, LED lighting is being installed, free Wi-Fi will keep guests connected, a projector screen will complement the televisions, and updated equipment will blast out the music. The new kitchen will turn out healthier air-fried food, with such items as chicken wings and strips, pretzels, nachos, hot dogs, french fries, small pizzas, and corn dogs.
The new owners are considering live bands for certain events, and speed skating competitions.
The 8,600 square foot entertainment center will also be available for wedding receptions, graduation parties, corporate events, work conferences, and any other adult occasions its 350-person capacity can hold. A liquor license for adult events is pending.
The building is already being utilized for ballet training and hockey practice, and by the American Cornhole League. The future will include an outdoor patio area, and may include yoga classes.
“The sky’s the limit. Whatever it’s possible for people to do, we are willing to try to help them out to get it done,” Smith said. “As time progresses there will be more things happening.”
Hamm and Spencer purchased the rollercade about a month ago from longtime owner Karen Fraizer. They were inspired during a private birthday they attended there.
“One of our family members said, ‘How cool would it be to own this?’” Smith recalled. They made inquiries to Frazier, who had owned and operated it for 26 years with her husband Bart, until he died last spring.
Saying only that she and Spencer put a “substantial amount” of money into the rollercade’s renovation, Hamm said patrons will see a new and improved entertainment venue. She said, unlike under the previous management, the rollercade will remain open during the summer.
With all of the current and proposed changes, however, Smith said the focus will remain on roller skating. She said she has fond remembrances of skating at Wauseon Rollercade during her childhood.
“We want to revive it, bring it back,” she said. “It just brings back a lot of good memories, and just to see the kids out there having a blast…With everything negative in the world, this is something positive that we can bring to light to bring families together, and have a safe place for kids.“
Smith added, “There are a lot of skating rinks that are closing around us, and we’re not willing to go down without a fight. We don’t want to see the doors close up and take that away from the kids.”
For information about rental terms, call 419-337-0377 or visit the Wauseon Rollercade Facebook page.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.