WAKEFIELD – Brickley's Ice Cream Owner Steven Brophy announced the immediate closure of the family's Wakefield location on Tuesday morning, due to continued incidents with unruly customers.
Earlier this summer, the popular homemade ice cream shop had been experiencing issues with some customers refusing to follow guidelines and being disrespectful to young employees. Things seemed to turn around, however, after Brophy shared his concerns and frustrations on social media.
But on Sunday, another incident took place at Main Street storefront. According to Brophy, when two male customers were told they couldn't stay and enjoy their ice cream on their patio due to the shop's safety guidelines, they became upset and verbally abusive towards young staff members.
"When another patron spoke up and intervened in an attempt to help, one of the men became threatening to the patron and things almost came to blows," Brophy wrote in the Facebook post. "This is unacceptable and is becoming unsafe for both our staff and customers."
"Along with our staff, we have been discussing our options and have made the very difficult decision to close our Wakefield location for the season – immediately," he continued.
Some staff will be moved to the Narragansett location, according to Brophy, where there'll be "more room for customers to enjoy their ice cream as well as more senior staff that can help mitigate problems that may arise."
Due to the limited outdoor patio space in Wakefield, where customers were instructed to wait for their order, letting people eat there would create too much crowding, with not enough people wearing masks.
Brophy apologized to local customers, who have been incredibly kind and supportive this summer.
During a phone interview last week, Brophy had told the Narragansett Times that "the large majority of the customers, all along, have been very nice," and since his last post they'd "been even nicer than they were before."
When Brophy had originally shared his concerns and frustrations over Facebook last month, warning that he might have to close up shop if the behavior continued, the local ice cream shop was catapulted into the spotlight of public discussion.
News of customers refusing to wear masks and acting disrespectful towards young staff members traveled fast. The story was quickly picked up by local television stations, including Channel 10, WPRI 12 and ABC6, and was also covered by the Providence Journal – reaching Ocean State residents far beyond South County.
During last week's phone interview, Brophy said he felt encouraged and extremely thankful for everyone’s support.
Several days later he would be apologizing to "local and dedicated Wakefield customers" for having "to make this painful decision."
Brophy shared on Facebook that he's looking forward to serving customers on Main Street again next year, and hopes they'll come visit the Narragansett location in the meantime.