January 26, 2022

Ice cream a hot seller

Shops report good business during pandemic

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Pat and Monica West of Cortland indulge in ice cream Saturday at The Little Treat Shoppe in Polkville. Ice cream business in Cortland County held steady throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Monica and Pat West of Cortland took a reprieve from the hot sun beating down while enjoying ice cream under the shade of an awning at The Little Treat Shoppe in Polkville.

“Orange creamsicle is one of my favorites, and they do a great job here,” Monica West said.

Whatever the flavor of a customer’s choice, the Little Treat Shoppe and other greater Cortland area ice cream shops have stayed afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been doing very well this year,” said Michelle Andersen on Saturday, the owner of the Little Treat Shoppe. “I think people are excited to get out of their house and get a little treat.”

When the pandemic took a hold of the county, the store could serve ice cream only to go, she said. Since restrictions have eased, the store’s outdoor seating has been opened.

Even during the past months of the pandemic, business was still good with people getting ice cream and taking it home.

Changes have been put in place, including required line spacing for customers, requiring all customers to wear masks and installing a Plexiglas screen at the order window. Still, these changes haven’t deterred people like the Wests from getting a sweet treat.

“Even if it stayed the way it is right now, it’s a bonus,” Andersen said. “We’re able to be open. That’s a blessing, for sure.”

“I’m just glad that we’re open regardless of everything else going on in the world,” said Julie Dann, owner of Super Cream Dairy Bar in Homer.

Ice cream with a kick

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last week a bill that would allow liquors to be infused into ice cream, but you might wait a while to lick a cone with a kick.

Michelle Andersen, the owner of the Little Treat Shoppe in Polkville, said she’s not looking to spike the sundae.

“We’ll leave that to the bars,” she said, adding she wasn’t sure she wanted alcohol in her ice cream flavors and any issues that may create.

Julie Dann, owner of Super Cream Ice Cream in Homer, said she would look into it, but would need to see if a liquor license would be required.

The law would allow ice cream to contain up to 5% alcohol by volume, similar to earlier laws that allow wine and beer-infused ice cream.

“The craft beverage industry has experienced explosive growth in New York and with that comes a responsibility to advance regulations that help ensure long-term viability, protect consumers and provide farmers with opportunities to increase their business,” Cuomo said in endorsing the law. “This legislation will further grow a burgeoning industry and boost small businesses while helping to put them on a path of sustained growth that empowers both producers and consumers.”

Like The Little Treat Shoppe, Dann’s business never closed during the pandemic as it was considered an essential business by providing food.

While people made much use of the store’s drive-through early on during the pandemic, the allowance of outdoor seating has led to most of the customers sitting at one of the many covered or open air tables.

“I think because we are an outside venue, people are more apt to come and sit,” Dann said.

Safety protocols include social distance markers in waiting lines that have been placed and customers must order from one window and pick up at another to help keep people apart.

Kevin Hatch of Marathon said he has gone to the Super Cream Dairy Bar a few times this summer to support the business, and to get a s’more ice cream cone — he likes the homemade ice cream.
“Without us, they wouldn’t survive,” he said.

Both businesses are looking to stay open until the end of September or possibly into early October.

“We’ve had a really good, strong season,” Dann said. “Even though COVID is going on, we’ve still had a good season so I can’t complain about that at all.”