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Palm Coast Thursday, Sep. 5, 2019 2 months ago

Flagler County ice cream parlors serve sweetness before storm

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Two local businesses found community support in preparing for losses from Hurricane Dorian.
by: Joey Pellegrino Staff Writer

When the weather maps showed Hurricane Dorian making its tightrope walk along the Atlantic coast toward Flagler County, did you stop to think about ice cream?

John Maldonado of Purdees Tropical Flavored Ice and Mike and Holly Wehde of the Waffle Cone had to, because every delicious tub that could have melted if Dorian took out their electricity would have been a tub of cash blown away by the palm-bending winds.

The proprietors of both shops landed on similar pre-storm solutions.

Purdees, on 1070 Palm Coast Parkway Northwest, gave away its sweets — soft-serve ice cream, Dole whip, Italian ices — for $5 per customer from last Friday through Saturday, Aug. 30-31. The Waffle Cone, closer to the danger of the storm surge at 102 South Fourth St., Flagler Beach, sold its ice cream for 50% off Sunday through Monday, Sept. 1-2.

Neither set of owners had been in place for very long when they saw a Category 3 threat to their livelihoods on the horizon.

“We’re brand new,” Maldonado said of Purdees, “only open over a month.”

He decided early Friday afternoon to do his $5 deal (provided customers ate in the store) and announce it on social media.

“We had been open all week” after the hurricane’s Floridian trajectory was announced, Maldonado said, “and saw business crawl to a standstill.” But the sale saw Purdees have two steadily busy days.

At the Waffle Cone, the Wehdes also thought of their sale salvation at the last second.

“Are you kidding me?” was their shared thought as Dorian bore down on their fledgling business. Having only owned the Cone for two months, they had let their employees leave to evacuate and were prepared to count over 100 tubs of ice cream as a loss when they caught the attention of the Channel 9 News crew filming the beach.

The news broadcast of their mission to “save the ice cream” helped, but Holly Wehde says it was just as much their widely-shared Facebook announcement, snowballing across the local web, which led to Monday night’s flood of cream-seekers.

No sooner had the last of their employees left on Monday than customers started flooding in. One patron, Natasha Glover, jumped over the counter to offer a scooping hand.

By the time the Wehdes closed on Tuesday to make their own home preparations, over 100 customers had helped them reduce over 100 tubs of ice cream to 20.

“It made a beautiful day out of what we expected to be an awful day,” she said. “It was the people in this community coming together to show us love and support.”

Both Purdees and the Waffle Cone will try to reflect the support shown by their communities.

“We did love the response,” Maldonado said, “love the fact that families came out.”

While he only did the sale because he lacked generators to keep his freezers running, and hopes to have the means to do so for future storms, Maldonado says such all-you-can-eat sales may happen again.

“We appreciated the community’s support, so it was something we discussed doing periodically, as a thank you,” he said.

“It was super sweet that so many people came out,” Wehde said of the Waffle Cone’s success. The Wehdes have ordered more ice cream, and 10% of their proceeds from now through Sunday, Sept. 8, will go to disaster relief for the Bahamas.

Both Purdees and the Waffle Cone will reopen Thursday, Sept. 5.

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