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Pandemic Economy Shutters East Hampton Ice Cream Parlor

Tue, 12/15/2020 - 20:11
Scoop du Jour now has a "for lease" sign in its window.
Durell Godfrey

Now that there's a "for lease" sign in the front window, the word is out that Scoop du Jour is closing its doors for good after 16 years on East Hampton's Newtown Lane and about 10 more before that on Main Street.

Its final day selling crisp cones and cold ice cream will be Sunday -- no pun intended. Dreesen's Donuts, which is a separate business, is also now searching for another local spot to take over production of its famed pastries, which have been made at Scoop du Jour for many years.

"Yes, it's true we're closing," Lori Chavez, the owner of Scoop du Jour, said by phone on Tuesday. "Our last day will be Sunday the 20th because we have to pack up the store and be out by the 31st."

Before Covid, lines were out the Scoop du Jour door on any given summer day or night. Even with long lines outside for a different reason this summer, the customer traffic didn't meet the store's needs.

"We just couldn't do it with the Covid restrictions. We're a volume store," Ms. Chavez said. "We need the volume, and we just didn't have it."

She said the best part about the business was her "scoopers" — the employees who often started working there at age 14 and continued on through teenage years and college breaks. "You really see them grow year to year and become responsible adults," she said.

Serving up ice cream was a pretty good gig, as it turns out. "I have a core group of ladies who have worked for me for 15, 16 years," Ms. Chavez said. "My general manager has been with me for 27. It's tough. . . . I couldn't have done it without my ladies."

Some of the employees will move over to Ms. Chavez's other ice cream shop, Big Olaf's, which is in Sag Harbor on Long Wharf. The lines are usually out the door there, too, in the summer -- and the expenses to run that store are lower in general, Ms. Chavez said. However, Big Olaf's is not open year-round at the moment.

"We're revamping Big Olaf to accommodate all of our Dreesen's fans," Ms Chavez said. "East Hampton Village is a great place to do business. The people are lovely. We watch customers come in and bring their kids in, and now their kids have kids. It's a neat little town. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to do business. Rents are crazy and expenses are high. You do the best you can for as long as you can."

For many people, a stop at the Newtown Lane ice cream parlor has been a summer tradition, but for others, like East Hampton Town Councilman David Lys, it's a longtime down-home staple. "My favorite bacon, egg, and cheese shop is closing. . . . Let's shop local, donate local, protect what we have here. We'll get through it together," Mr. Lys said during a town board meeting on Tuesday.

Christina DeSanti, a co-owner of the Dreesen's catering company, said she is sad to see Scoop du Jour closing down. "I feel terrible for them and all their employees. . . . They are really great people, and they sold a couple hundred thousand doughnuts each year," she said.

It's a sad sign of the times, Ms. DeSanti said, particularly where many catering, hospitality, and entertainment businesses are concerned.

"We're in one of the industries that has been hit really, really hard by Covid," Ms. DeSanti said. "It's a small industry out here. We all had full seasons booked and we all lost the entire season. There were small dinner parties and micro-this-and-that. Some of us were able to switch to takeout, which is what [we] are doing. Some of us will get by. It's not ideal, but some people are going to have a hard time. . . . We're all going into winter without any cushion behind us."

With Reporting by Christopher Walsh
 


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