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Ice cream parlours scoop success with increased online orders

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While many ice cream stores look to re-open in the coming weeks, some have been ahead of the game launching new delivery services and products.

Although we’ve experienced lockdown in different stages – from bulk-buying bread, pasta and chopped tomatoes, to there being no flour or condensed milk on the shelves – one thing is certain, we Scots love our food.

So it’s no surprise that now demand for key grocery staples has plateaued a bit, we’re expanding our horizons and craving something sweet.

In step the ice cream parlours.

Traditionally operating from their venues welcoming thousands of people through their doors every year, a few firms have reinvented their services, bringing their offering to customer’s doors.

At this time of year ice cream shops are usually packed with hungry locals and tourists looking for something to satisfy their taste buds.

One business which has adapted to lockdown restrictions and is determined to keep a smile on customer’s faces is Jannettas Gelateria in St Andrews. Doing more than 120 deliveries over the space of four days, owner Owen Hazel says he and the team are kept busy thanks to their loyal clientele.

He said: “We started the home delivery on the April 9 and we were inundated with orders which was amazing. It soon became apparent that the only way we could cope with the demand was to give customers a slot as to when we could deliver, rather than offering an immediate delivery service such as Deliveroo. This was as a result of many of the orders coming from outwith St Andrews.

“We only deliver Thursday to Sunday and try to do it in groups in terms of location. We normally do around 30 deliveries per day in our freezer van as we are going as far as Freuchie and Wormit. The orders have been slowing down a bit, but this may be as a result of a slight relaxation of restrictions.”

But it’s not just ice cream tubs they have been tasked with making. The firm has also seen an increase in requests for birthday ice cream cakes.

He added: “The majority of orders are for large tubs rather than cones or single scoop tubs, we have also had a huge amount of requests for ice cream cakes for birthdays or other celebrations. As far as flavours are concerned the most popular are the traditional ones such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, but perhaps one stand-out would be Bubblegum – this is probably being ordered by parents for their kids as a treat.

“We hope to be opening the takeaway side of the business again soon so we will have to see what impact that has on demand for home delivery and also our ability to keep up with the level of orders. Going forward we will try to combine retail and delivery and, who knows, it may be that the demand for delivery will become more common as a result of the current situation.

“My wife and I are extremely grateful for the support from our customers as well as all the really special messages we have received, it has been really uplifting to see the happy faces, especially the children eagerly waiting for the Jannettas van to draw up at their house.”

Ice cream firm Stew ‘n’ Drews which boasts two shops – one in Hopeman, Moray, and one in Buckie, Aberdeenshire – has also jumped on the delivery bandwagon, punting out more than 100 deliveries every weekend.

Owner Stewart Sutherland is working solo, making, packing and delivering all of the products himself by hand.

He said: “I’m just doing what I can to keep the business operational. I’m doing everything myself, making the ice cream, sorting it into tubs, packaging it and then also delivering it.

Stewart with his sons at his premises

“The delivery service is proving really popular. We’re just delivering to the local area like Hopeman, Covesea, Burghead, Duffus at the moment at weekends. We take orders through Facebook, over the phone, or by text. I have this SumUp machine and I just send the customers a link and they pay that way.

“We’re known for our really quirky flavours, but for the home delivery, I’ve kept it to 10. The biggest sellers are Biscoff, honeycomb and Creme Egg. I’m selling half litre and litre tubs. I’m not doing scoops or anything like that. The toppings are put in a sealed tub and are included with the order. We’re also putting in some of our branded wafers into the orders.”

Partnering with local eatery Calum’s Kitchen in Elgin, the two firms have managed to support one another, selling each other’s products.

“Calum’s Kitchen have this amazing sticky toffee pudding so we’ve been selling that for them and they have been selling our ice cream tubs, too,” said Stewart.

“We sold 100 portions last weekend and he sold around 50 tubs for us. It’s great that folk are helping one another.

“I have a few wholesale customers still open so they’re selling quite well which is good. I’m looking at offering delivery to Elgin too, but there are other parlours doing the same thing in their area. For the shop in Buckie I offer a delivery service as well when I can.”

That’s more fresh bakedSticky toffee puddingBakewell tartReady for tomorrow Yum 🤤

Posted by Calum’s kitchen on Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Missing out on Easter sales – a time Stewart refers to as “the start of the ice cream season” – the businessman is unsure what life after lockdown will look like for his company.

He added: “The shop isn’t big enough for social distancing so I’m really going to have to think about that when we reopen.

“Following the Scottish Government’s plans to commence Phase One at the weekend, we reopened both of our shops for takeaway only. We put all the right safety measures in place to ensure our staff and customers were kept safe and feel comfortable in the shops during these uncertain times. There will be a sign outside the shop to queue behind, requesting two-metre spacing, and we will only have one family in at a time.

“We will continue to offer our home delivery service for those living further afield that can’t reasonably travel by foot or bicycle to our shops.

“And I guess with ice cream, it’s peak times and very weather dependent. I’m swithering if I put my ice cream bike out down at the park or the beach during summer, too, as I’d be able to put out markers in that sense. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time as we’re quite a seasonal business and this time is the best time for us – as well as summer.”

One of Stew ‘n’ Drews’ ice cream bikes they may need to use to make sales throughout summer, depending on what life after lockdown looks like

And Cheryl Barr, owner of Shorty’s Ice Cream Parlour in Ballater, Aberdeenshire, is also doing everything she can to keep her business going during lockdown.

Launching a non-contact delivery service, the ice cream shop has been successfully servicing the north-east’s sweet-toothed needs for the past nine weeks.

She said: “Things are going great. The team are quite busy with orders and we have quite a small team still working so they are all working hard to honour all orders while maintaining our well-known customer service. We’re delivering anywhere between 50-70 deliveries each week all over the north-east.

Cheryl Barr serving up ice cream in her store, Shorty’s

“We have one van with one driver who covers over 500 miles in two days. We have a freezer in our van as well as an area for dry goods. We cover a loop from Braemar to Inverurie then on to Dyce, through to Westhill and finally Lumphanan – and everywhere in between in one day. Then on the second day we go from Dess to Banchory, then through to Stonehaven over to Portlethen, into Aberdeen and on to Durris – and everywhere in between.”

Launching ice cream boxes, Cheryl continuously mixes up the flavours weekly, has added in a mystery ice cream and has also introduced new ‘build your own’ products which is certainly keeping customers engaged – and entertained.

“When the ice cream boxes arrive to customers’ homes, they will find a box of your choice of two toppings, two sauces, two mini ice cream spoons and two sugar curls. There will also be a separate box with two sprinkle/cookie cones and finally a compostable clamshell box with two scoops of your chosen gelato flavours! The sundaes are very much along the same lines, too.

𝗗𝗶𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝘄 𝗰𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗲𝗱We have now closed our order diary for this week and will not be taking orders for the week commencing…

Posted by Shorty's on Sunday, 24 May 2020

“We change our menu every week so we couldn’t pick a customer favourite, however we deliver around 60 ‘build your own sundaes’ each week. It is by far the most popular item on the menu followed closely by our ‘cones at home’.

“I think we will definitely continue to offer this service after lockdown, but on a smaller scale. We are hoping to continue deliveries once a month for gelato products only so we won’t be offering cake or flour etc, but watch this space for a monthly ‘sundae’ treat!”

Shorty’s in Ballater, Aberdeenshire