Essential business: Ice cream still available via drive-through

Vanderwende Farm Creamery in Bridgeville is still serving ice cream via drive-thru. Courtesy of Vanderwende Farm Creamery

BRIDGEVILLE — Delawareans looking for ice cream during the COVID-19 pandemic have options, but they must stay in their car to be served.

Downstate, Vanderwende Farm Creamery in Bridgeville is serving ice cream with drive-thru service. The Bridgeville location is Vanderwende’s only one operating currently as it closed its Greenwood, Dewey Beach and Fenwick Island locations.

“It’s good to have a little bit of money coming in,” said Taylor Vanderwende, manager of the Bridgeville location. “But we’re nowhere near where we should be right now.”

When Gov. John Carney declared a state of emergency, ice creameries were included with restaurants and other eating places as essential businesses. But unlike restaurants, ice cream stores cannot do takeout or delivery — it has to be via a drive-thru.

“Those selling exclusively ice cream or similar products may transact via drive-thru only,” is the official statement from the state.
Woodside Farm Creamery in Hockessin is also operating via drive-thru service. It is open Tuesday-Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

The Wallflower Farm Creamery in Dover was scheduled to open on March 20. But it announced via its Facebook page that it will postpone opening due to safety reasons because of the virus.

The UDairy Creamery closed both its locations in Wilmington and Newark on March 16 in accordance with the University of Delaware closures. Hopkins Farm Creamery in Lewes has been closed since April 7.

Tre Sorelle Dolce in Wyoming does have a drive-thru window and has been serving ice cream and Italian ice. It is open seven days a week from 1-9 p.m.

“We have adapted to be COVID-19 compliant per the governor’s mandate and although quite a change in dynamics for us, it has been well received,” it posted on its Facebook page on April 20. “We have learned a lot about drive-thru window service and am proud to say we have become more efficient over the past week lowering our average service time from 4min per car down to 2 1/2min per car.”

Mommom’s Ice Cream in Dover does not have a drive-thru window, but owner Matt Stachecki has found a way to still provide ice cream to his customers.

Mr. Stachecki is providing to-go pints and quarts available for sale next door at the Little Grocer, which is also owned by Mr. Stachecki, while the Mommom’s Ice Cream building is closed.

“We’re not technically allowed to scoop so we have to make the per-packaged pints and quarts to go,” Mr. Stachecki said. “I really wanted to keep selling ice cream so we’ve made it one operation with the Little Grocer. We’ve been advertising it via Facebook and the turnout has been great.”

Mr. Stachecki said every batch of ice cream he makes can fill 10 containers and he is making between 100-150 a day. He’s been having some special flavors each week which he posts on the official Facebook page — this week is Cream Cheese Oreo and Banana Cream Pie.
The Little Grocer is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and from 7-8 a.m. it is open only for seniors.

“When this all began there was really no clarity on the situation,” Mr. Stachecki said. “I tried to figure out a way to still be open and help people out as much as possible. It did make me nervous, I got two kids. We scaled back for two weeks but it’s starting to pick up.”

Vanderwende Farm Creamery is still selling milk and cheese with its ice cream at its home store in Bridgeville. But customers are not allowed inside and must request those items when ordering ice cream.

Ms. Vanderwende, who owns the Dewey Beach location as well as managing the home store, said the creamery is not allowed to operate its two ice cream trucks either.

She said there was a lot of confusion when the order first came down, saying ice creameries were singled out after a picture went viral on social media of patrons lined up on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk for ice cream, not following social distancing protocols in the days before the State of Emergency was declared.

“I feel like that is what put us all in this pickle,” Ms. Vanderwende said. “The thing that hurts the most right now is not having the ice cream trucks. Then obviously if we aren’t able to open our beach locations.”

Currently Vanderwende Farm Creamery is planning a couple of Mother’s Day specials which are available for presale.

It is partnering with Little Wagon Produce for a Mother’s Day bundle which includes a hanging basket, quart of strawberries and quart of ice cream. It also has partnered with Amity Coffee of Greenwood for another bundle which has a bag of coffee and a quart of ice cream.

Specials like those are important, said Ms. Vanderwende, because the day-to-day sales are always a question.

“It kind of all depends on the weather,” she said. “It’s obviously hard to do when it’s raining. We’ve been bringing ice cream to the car and we’re not allowed to have any customers in the store. That limits us tremendously because when people aren’t coming to the door they aren’t seeing the other stuff we sell.”

The wish for all ice creameries is the virus will hopefully pass by the summer months, allowing everyone to be open for their busiest season.

“We’re just hitting the peak of when ice cream is going to be the most popular,” Mr. Stachecki said. “The weather is nice, a lot of people are going to be outside and wanting ice cream.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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