Two years after lotto win, 'Snack Shack Girls' take over N.S. diner
Monday was a momentous day for the “Snack Shack Girls” — five friends and co-workers at the little Kentville, N.S., restaurant whose lives changed dramatically two years ago this week.
This week marks the anniversary of when they made national headlines and Atlantic Lotto made a house call, bringing with them a cheque for more than $15 million.
For better and worse, that money changed everything, and it made possible the happy occasion they celebrated Monday: the grand re-opening of the Snack Shack.
The little restaurant changed hands and closed down for a time after the five women won big, and now it’s back with a staff of two multi-millionaires.
Stephanie Dunham also took a hiatus from her work there after the lottery win changed her life on what proved to be an eventful 49th birthday.
Now she’s back, but there’s a key difference: she owns it.
“I just had to have this place back open. It's been a landmark here since, I think 1934,” Dunham said.
Fellow winner Joanne Gillis jumped at the chance to work the breakfast shift again, even though everyone knows she can go home anytime she wants to.
After two years, the bonds of friendship remain as strong as ever.
“We meet once a month for lunch. We pick a different place, and we have a couple of the regulars, too, that come with us,” Gillis said.
Each of the women took home $3.4 million on that fateful day.
With that kind of money they could have gone anywhere, but they all decided to stay in Kentville.
For one of them, though, life as a millionaire proved to be a little more rocky.
Valerie Archer says she struggled with anxiety after cashing her cheque.
“I called the lottery company probably two weeks after we got the cheque, and I said, 'can I give it back?’” she said.
Entirely unpretentious, she still lives in the same small house she grew up in — although it has undergone some major renovations.
She did treat herself to a new vehicle, but overall Archer struggled, as many lottery winners do, to adjust to a sudden surge of popularity.
“You got friends coming out of the woodwork, who you haven't talked to in 35 years, and it's like ‘Oh, OK, you remembered who I was,’” Archer said.
Dunham says even now she struggles to wrap her head around how much she won.
“You have no idea how much money it is, even when you see that number in your bank account … and I still have no idea how much that really is,” she said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko