Favorite flavors disappear as Ralph's Italian ices faces shortage
It's a summer staple that customers look forward to, but now Ralph's Famous Italian Ices & Ice Cream is running out of flavors.
Customers at the Ralph's in Commack are quickly finding out that certain flavors are not available as soon as they get the menu that shows a number of items circled, saying out of stock.
Owner Scott Rosenberg says it all boils down to problems caused by the pandemic.
Ralph's customer Allison Dunsmore got a not-so-sweet surprise when the store didn't have any of the flavors she wanted.
"I ordered five or six flavors that I couldn't have," says Dunsmore.
Normally there are more than 100 varieties, but right now it is closer to 60 choices.
Rosenberg says the shortage is happening because there aren't enough workers at the company's factory in New Jersey.
"They have limited staff," says Rosenberg. "They have about half the workforce they normally have and they're having trouble producing.
Ralph's isn't the only business impacted by a lack of workers.
At Pete the Greek in Old Bethpage, owner Pete Georgatos says he has a second location ready to open in Hauppauge, but the doors are still closed because he doesn't have enough employees.
"We're finding people are not responding to our job listings," says Georgatos. "The workforce is not out there for us."
The Mattituck ice cream shop Magic Fountain just announced it will shut down every Tuesday and Wednesday starting Aug. 1 because of a lack of workers.
Economic analyst Martin Cantor says the shortage is due in part to the enhanced $300 unemployment benefit. He also says it's due to COVID-19 concerns.
"With this delta variant coming out now and more people starting to come down with COVID, people who are unvaccinated or afraid of COVID will not show up to work," says Cantor.
The enhanced unemployment benefits are set to expire in September, and President Joe Biden has said he has no plans to renew them.