NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — At least three ice cream shops in Rhode Island say some customers have been disrespectful over changes made due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brickley’s Ice Cream says at both its Narragansett and Wakefield locations a small percentage of patrons refused to wear masks and were verbally abusive toward the staff. The majority of the employees are teenagers.
Owner Steve Brophy says it’s happened almost every day.
“I don’t think any of these kids should be subject to this abuse,” he said. “All we are asking you to do while you are getting your ice cream here or waiting for your order over there is to wear your mask for five minutes. That’s all.”
Some of the customers asked to see the law that requires them to wear a mask, according to Brophy, while others were angry about not being able to order exactly what they wanted due to a reduced menu.
Brickley’s is now considering closing for the season because of this issue.
“This is incredibly frustrating, stressful and exhausting for all of us,” a recent Facebook post read. “There is a point where it is not worth doing and as July approaches I don’t see this getting better. Could we pull the plug on all of this … at this point my answer is yes. It would be the last option but it is an option.”
This is not unique to Brickley’s. Clementine’s Homemade Ice Cream in East Greenwich and Lincoln Creamery in Lincoln also say their young staff are sometimes given a hard time from defiant customers who do not want to wear a mask.
Lincoln Creamery took it a step further by hiring security to help enforce their requirements and prevent the staff from bearing the brunt of any frustration.
“Because people have been inconvenienced so much, it’s hard for them to have a 16- to 22-year-old kid tell them something,” Manager Joe Tashash said. “They are meeting face-to-face with an adult who is telling them to do it, so the burden isn’t on [the staff].”
Brickley’s says ice cream shops are not the only businesses getting angry customers.
“We are just asking people to be a little bit more patient, a little but more understanding,” Brophy added. “These are tough times and everybody, all the businesses, are doing the best they can.”
Brickley’s has not yet decided if they will close for the season, saying they are taking it one day at a time.
All three ice cream shops said it’s a small number of customers who were disrespectful to their staff over the mask requirements.