The coronavirus pandemic has shaken small businesses to their cores and left the future uncertain for many, but Dan Young is sure of one thing.
“I mean, I can't think of a future where somebody doesn't like ice cream,” he said.
Young is one of the owners, CEO and “chief ice cream dipper,” of Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, Ohio, where relatives of the Young family first built a barn in 1859 and started selling milk to the public in 1958.
Since then, Young’s has evolved throughout the years, dipping ice cream starting in 1960, adding a bakery in 1966, building the first part of the current Dairy Store in 1968 and creating the miniature golf course in 1993.
This year, during closures amid the coronavirus pandemic, Young’s added a drive-thru to the Dairy Store in order to keep business afloat and provide a safe option for guests.
The drive-thru — which Young said has been serving about 1,500 cars each week and will remain open for at least the next few months — offers 20 flavors of dipped ice cream, slightly less than the 32 flavors served inside the shop, but still something Young said he doesn’t think you can find anywhere else.
Young’s never had to fully close amid stay-at-home orders, but Young said there was a week or two where business was essentially paused and only about 80 people were employed.
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As a family-owned business, HR director and co-owner Ben Young said that Young’s likes to treat its employees and guests like family.
“It was hard because we had so many employees that needed a paycheck and we just couldn't get them back to work right away and we had customers that wanted to get out and wanted to have ice cream and we were limited on our ability to serve them,” he said.
Still, both Ben and Dan Young are confident that the business will rebound and that Young’s will continue to be a family tradition for staff and guests alike.
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“It’s another chapter in the history of our book,” Dan Young said. “The farm has been through — and people here have been through — many things over the years. And this is one that's different than anything, but any of the other major events, you could probably say the same thing at the time.”
Dan’s philosophy? Exactly what they do or how they do it might change over time, but as long as guests and staff are taken care of, people will keep coming back, he said.
“We are truly all in it together. We need to work together to keep everybody safe, and to do things the correct way,” he said.
Young’s is back up to more than 200 employees (although there would typically be about 300 employees during this time of year), and the farm is up and running aside from the farm’s second restaurant, The Golden Jersey Inn, which Dan Young said is currently being reimagined.
In addition to the Dairy Store, which serves sandwiches, cheese curds and other food alongside ice cream and milkshakes, the Udders and Putters miniature golf and entertainment area is also open. All in all, the 10-acre farm offers the perfect place for families to spread out, Ben Young said.
“What we try to do here is just offer a chance for families to get out, spend the day together and enjoy being outdoors and enjoy being with each other and in an environment where they're outdoors and feel safe,” he said.
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