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Ice cream shops prepare to open under COVID-19 rules

  • Kara Felton with a twist soft serve at the Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland, which opened Thursday for takeout. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland is open for takeout. The picnic tables have been removed. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Kara Felton, owner Darlene Kulessa and Jess Martinez are ready to serve takeout at the Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland, which opened Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland opened Thursday for takeout. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland opened Thursday for the season. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/22/2020 3:28:29 PM

NORTHFIELD — As warm weather returns, so do the staff at ice cream stands and their customers. But given the current health crisis, the ice cream business is sure to look a little different this summer.

Tim and Mary Bowen, co-owners of the Northfield Creamie, which had a soft opening last weekend, said navigating the opening of this season has been challenging. After so much time indoors, Tim Bowen said families are likely looking forward to getting out and getting a treat.

“This place is a beacon of joy for the community,” he said. “Historically, ice cream is a simple little treat you can enjoy with the family.”

Having coordinated with the Northfield Board of Health, the Bowens said face masks will be required on the Northfield Creamie property, and customers must practice social distancing. Markers, which are 6 feet apart, indicate where customers should stand when in line.

Plus, to decrease the potential spread of germs or disease, the Northfield Creamie purchased a new point-of-sale system, and is now accepting debit and credit cards as well as cash.

There will be no eating or gathering on Northfield Creamie property after customers have been served, and no more than 10 people are allowed in line at once. New masks are available at no cost to those who forgot theirs.

Tim Bowen said that, during opening weekend, there were only a couple of instances where staff had to remind customers about the requirement to wear a mask while ordering. Some people went back to their vehicle to get a mask, while some people left altogether. Bowen said there was never any animosity regarding the new rules.

According to Manager Beata Bielicki, 5J Creamee and Pasiecnik Farmstand in Whately opened for the season on Monday. Like others, it is operating as takeout only, while encouraging masks and social distancing. She said staff spent two weeks coordinating the stand’s return to business.

“We put lots of thought into managing the outside space and customers,” she said. “We have to protect ourselves and customers. Knock on wood — right now, it’s working well.”

Fortunately for the 5J Creamee and Pasiecnik Farmstand, Bielicki said it has plenty of outdoor space for customers to practice social distancing. Staff members have also put out signs to guide customer traffic. Bielicki said Tuesday was “absolutely crazy,” as many families came out for ice cream.

“Everybody is ready to do something different,” Bielicki said. “It’s good to see the old crowd.”

The Sugarloaf Frostie in Sunderland opened for the season Thursday. Owner Darlene Kulessa said it usually opens at the start of May, but that was delayed as she prepared to work under new health safety guidelines.

Kulessa said the stand will serve takeout only, for now, and the picnic tables have been removed. Aided by marks on the pavement that indicate where customers should stand in line, staff members are also encouraging social distancing, as well as the need to wear masks.

“We’re trying to get this social distancing thing down,” Kulessa said.

Though the majority of ice cream stands are just opening or are preparing to open, at least one has revised its service for the past two months.

The Country Creemee in Turners Falls opened for the season back in March. Owner Robyn Mason said it turned the door of the shop into a walkup window and has kept busy taking orders at the door for cold grinders, hot dogs, soups and salads, as well as frozen treats.

On Tuesday, Townline Ice Cream in Bernardston took to Facebook to announce it is making plans to reopen for the season. The post said the stand will announce final details soon, with staff hoping to open at the beginning of June.

According to its website, Ice Cream Alley in Greenfield “will delay reopening for the 2020 season until it is absolutely safe to do so,” for the well-being of the community and its staff. In the meantime, customers can support the ice cream shop, and others that have not yet opened, by purchasing a gift card to use when they return.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.




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