How do you generate food and beverage sales at a normally active golf club community when the clubhouse is only offering take-out, there is no entertainment, safe social distancing is imperative, and residents have been in quarantine for weeks, starving for much more than food? The answer: deliver ice cream and gelato to members via multiple golf carts, complete with the magical tinkling chimes and Old Fashioned goodness of ice cream trucks.
Naples Lakes Country Club (www.napleslakesfl.com) Events Coordinator Kimberly Hill and Dining Room Manager Liana Melle pondered potential membership outreach ideas in a safe distancing environment that could make members’ days brighter. They knew their members love ice cream but could not come to the dining room, so why not deliver it to them in person?
Says Kimberly, “First, we established safe guidelines for golf carts driven single file by a solo driver, creating a parade-like event. The five golf carts are decorated with balloons and pictures featuring flavors offered and prices. I drive the first cart with a speaker and megaphone, playing loud traditional ice cream truck music that announces the Ice Cream truck is here. The music can be heard from inside the homes. But this isn’t really needed, since the community’s many neighborhoods are filled with often as many as 100 residents patiently waiting at the end of their driveways while others are out on bikes waiting for the ice cream trucks to arrive.”
Adds Naples Lakes General Manager Bryan Roe, “Our members feel like kids again! They are energized and delighted that we have created something that takes them back to a better time … the Good Old Days! Our team has have worked very hard to ensure that we are following guidelines for a healthy and fun experience for all.”
The first two carts feature ice cream cups in coolers, spoons, and napkins. Executive Chef Wilhelm and his staff prepare and package the ice cream. Cart #4 is the Cookie Cart, which hands out an individually wrapped homemade treat, complimentary with the purchase of ice cream. Cart #5 holds the staff member, who records members’ charge account information for payment, requiring no exchange of cash. All servers wear gloves. It takes about 90 minutes for the parade to go through entire community of over 700 residences.
The ice cream parade was held in the early evenings of April 26 and May 3; the final such event will be held on Sunday, May 17 from 6-8 pm. Created by Chef Wilhelm, the ice cream and gelato is distributed in disposable foam cup containers. All 100 cups were sold on the first Sunday; the amount was tripled the second week and also sold out.
“We were surprised by the excitement from our members,” says Liane. “But the story is much bigger than selling ice cream. What we are really delivering is care, kindness and smiles in a very challenging time where some might feel sad and lonely. Honestly, the ice cream is just the cherry on the top. The main ingredient is our coming to them in person at a time when such a simple gesture is recognized as mountains of love. Since they have been unable to work, the F&B staff is eager to volunteer their time and happy to see their members’ smiles of gratitude. When the staff who normally serves your dining needs actually appears on your street, it adds a genuine message of caring for the members.”
Located at 4784 Naples Lakes Blvd., Naples Lakes Country Club is a private 490-acre gated golf course and country club community where membership is included with every residence. It is Collier county’s only Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, has been designated as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary and is a Blue Zones Project participant. Naples Lakes was also ranked Number 6 by Golf Advisors in its Golfers Choice – Best of Florida courses, as well as the Best County Club in Collier County by Naples Daily News in the publication’s Best of Naples 2019 in its annual Readers’ Choice Awards competition.