By John Cropley
Gazette Business Editor
If you can’t get to the ice cream stand, one upper State Street business will bring the ice cream to you this summer.
Bumpy’s Polar Freeze has begun delivering soft-serve and scooped hard ice cream to customers within 3 miles of its landmark shop — the one with the pool full of bumper boats in the back.
Manager Alex DeMarco said he’s afraid to claim the service is unique, but he has searched high and low and could not find another store that delivers single servings of ice cream on demand.
Two weeks after launching the service, the cold deliveries are getting a warm reception from customers, he said.
“They are amazed that we can deliver ice cream.”
Bumpy’s bought three EdgeStar mini-freezers that run on 120-volt household current and 12-volt automotive current. With a head start overnight, the freezers go into service each morning completely chilled and able to maintain an internal temperature of minus-8 degrees in the back seat of the delivery driver’s car — colder than the freezers at Bumpy’s, in fact.
With a little hustle to and from the car, drivers can hand the customer a sundae with no drips and no melting.
The only thing the drivers can’t do is deliver ice cream cones — they’re too structurally unstable to put in a backseat chiller. So the ice cream is delivered in dishes, with an empty cone on the side for those who want one.
The hot food that Bumpy’s sells — burgers, dogs, nachos and the like — also is available for delivery, but it rides in an insulated bag.
Delivery driver Chrissy Solomon said she goes to houses, businesses and even schoolyards in the Niskayuna-Schenectady area. But it’s the little children who are most excited to see her roll up to their homes.
“I really enjoy being part of this,” she said.
‘Serving up memories’
Years after they had their first date there, David and Libby Elmendorf purchased Bumpy’s in 2012, and they’ve made investments since then. They’ve expanded the parking, upgraded the landscaping and improved the aesthetics of the bumper boat pool.
This year, they’re also expanding the season; they opened the store March 1 and expect to keep it open through mid-December, selling Halloween pumpkins and Christmas trees along the way. (The boat pool, which opens this weekend, will likely close in September.)
DeMarco said future expansions could include indoor climate-controlled seating to supplement the outside benches.
DeMarco and Elmendorf are brothers. They are also partners in Quality Construction and Paving.
The delivery service is fairly simple: Call or go online and tell Bumpy’s what you want, and Solomon or one of the two other drivers will bring it. The transactions are credit card or PayPal only, so drivers aren’t handling cash that might make them targets for theft.
Going out for ice cream is one of the quintessential summer experiences, certainly. The delivery service isn’t designed to replace that, but rather to make it accessible to those who can’t travel easily, or at all.
“It’s tough to have little kids and the elderly stand in line,” DeMarco said. That’s particularly true on very hot days or at times when the line is very long.
However well the delivery service works out for Bumpy’s, the tradition of going out for ice cream isn’t going to fall off anytime soon.
“Sometimes it’s just good to go sit on a picnic table away from the TV,” DeMarco said. “It’s a fun business. You’re serving up memories.”
Reach business editor John Cropley at 395-3104, email@example.com or @cropjohn on Twitter.