It’s summer and a popular activity is going out for ice cream. Even during a pandemic, many local ice cream shops are open and excited to serve customers.
Sweet Claude’s Ice Cream in Cheshire opened in early March and by the end of the month was reduced to curbside pickup only. The shop reopened May 20.
“We have had to do a little bit of compromise,” said Kelly Anne Pearce, co-owner. “Obviously, health and safety is No. 1, but as long as you wear a mask, you can still come in and get the great ice cream you’ve always been used to.”
Staff comes in early each day for a health assessment, including a screening for temperature. The employees also help enforce mask wearing and guide customers in and out of the shop.
“Well it’s hard when you have ice cream,” said Stephanie Clason, co-owner. “People get so excited so you have to be reminded that even though you have a cone in your face, you can’t put your mask down until you actually exit. Now that we have a new exit, they also have to guide customers out...”
Sweet Claude’s is still offering its full menu, including sundaes, cakes and pies.
“We’re trying to run as normal — if we can even say that anymore — as possible down here to keep people knowing that even though things are changing, their ice cream and favorites are still available,” Clason said.
The shop is located at 828 South Main St., Cheshire.
Les’ Dairy Bar
After opening for a day in March, Les’ Dairy Bar closed and didn’t reopen again until May 23. The Meriden shop has safeguards in place, such as social distancing lines and plastic coverings at the window.
“We have a one-way line,” said owner Debra DiGiandomenico. “We enter from one side and leave from the other. As far as inside, obviously the regular cleaning and sanitizing but we have one person taking the orders and the money and then the customers pick up their items at the second window by people who have not touched money or anything.”
DiGiandomenico has a sign up that says “no mask, no service.” She is also trying to eliminate “tailgating” to enforce social distancing.
“It’s a very social kind of place and it’s antisocial now with people in masks,” DiGiandomenico said. “We don’t know who they are when they say ‘hi.’ You can pretty much tell if they’re smiling or if they are happy but other than that, it’s very difficult to tell who people are.”
Since reopening, DiGiandomenico has noticed some some random acts of kindness, such as customers paying for each other or giving her employees big tips.
“A lot of customers have thanked me for being open and just being able to add some normalcy to their kids’ lives which I guess have been turned upside down,” DiGiandomenico said
Les’s is located at 654 E. Main St.Rose Dairy
Rose Dairy in Cheshire delayed its reopening for the season about three weeks, to April 11. The shop has spread out tables six feet apart and everything is cleaned and sanitized.
“We’re a walk-up style place,” said owner Joseph Barbado. “It seems to be a little safer because people aren’t coming in and out.”
Barbado has noticed customers are coming to the shop as a way to get out of the house and see others.
“...it seems like people want to get out of their house and go for a ride and talk with other people,” Barbado said. “In the ice cream industry, a lot of ice cream places have been doing well with this.”
The shop is located at 906 South Main St.Sweet Cream’s
Sweet Cream’s in Wallingford closed for about a month before reopening.
“We weren’t too sure at first how to handle the situation because everything was very new to us,” said Rocio Cruz, partial owner. “We’ve never experienced this before.”
Sweet Cream’s is limiting the amount of people in the store and not allowing customers to eat in the store.
“It is the summer so it is a lot trickier because we are usually pretty busy in the summer but we just ask for our customers to please have patience,” Cruz said. “... It’s a lot to process and it is a little bit more complicated... due to the fact that everybody has to wear masks, we can’t have people trying flavors in the store and just certain things like that. It’s also a lot easier to call ahead and order.”
Sweet Cream’s is located at 565 Center St.Banana’s Ice Cream
Banana’s Ice Cream in Wallingford did not close at all during the pandemic.
“I stayed open the whole time,” said Michelle Caramanello, operations manager. “By staying open I was able to give back to the community a little bit. I was able to deliver ice cream to the local hospitals. Any firefighters, EMS, nurses, health care workers that came in. Police officers that came in, I was able to give them, if not a discount, their actual ice cream as a thank you...we were so blessed with our customers that came in and they were thanking me, they were thanking us, for being open to help them just have a little bit of sanity and normalcy in their life.”
Banana’s Ice cream has been cleaning and sanitizing doors and counters and offering hand sanitizer. It also added a touchless paying option.
“I’ve also closed down the bathrooms to the public just to keep as many items and spaces as sanitized as possible,” Caramanello said. “I hate that I had to do that but I just felt that it was another space we needed to keep up with.
“...we really want people to have a safe pleasant experience when they come in and they are happy with what they leave with,” she added.
Banana’s is located at 1122 N. Colony Road.