“Two months ago we were planning for the Cherry Blossom Festival,” says Victoria Lai. “We were planning for big spring break crowds and the Nats’ home opener.” Instead, as the COVID-19 pandemic settled in the area, Lai, the founder of Ice Cream Jubilee, closed all three locations.
She reopened the Navy Yard and Logan Circle stores last week, selling a select lineup of the company’s signature sweets, including pints of ice cream, bake-at-home cookie dough, and sundae packages, for carryout and pickup only. (The Ballston store remains closed for now.)
The company also launched a limited, direct home-delivery service through icecreamjubilee.square.site, in addition to what’s available through third-party apps like Postmates and UberEats.
Lai was ultimately motivated to reopen once she realized doing so “was the best way to keep supporting our staff.” And that support for her “staff family” goes beyond mere efforts at retention.
“I’ve committed to increasing, by up to 25 percent, the wage of any of our hourly employees who come back to help us out,” she says. “We’re definitely cutting where we can. I’m going to forego all of my compensation, and I’m working around the clock. And all my senior managers are on half-pay or less. But our hourly employees simply can’t afford not to have a paycheck.”
In addition to food orders, customers can aid the Jubilee cause by purchasing specially created Fundraising Packages and Gifts — starting with the Pints of the Month Club, for $120, which grants members four pints of new seasonal flavors per month for three months.
Other packages include future group ice cream-making classes led by Lai, plus an Instagram-primed “Impossible Cone” group photo session, all ranging in price from $800 to $3,000. There’s also a $300 package that serves up much-deserved treats to first responders and healthcare workers.
Last weekend, the company “delivered over a hundred ice cream scoops” to the staff at Georgetown ICU and Nova Fairfax hospitals. Additionally, the company will donate 10 meals to the Capital Area Food Bank for every $100 spent on its special packages.
Of course, even the average stay-at-home office worker could use a sweet treat from time to time. “These days of working from home can be really long,” Lai says. “A little ice cream can help give you a little bit of happiness and something to look forward to at the end of the day.”
Ice Cream Jubilee is currently open Thursday to Sunday from Noon to 9 p.m. at its two D.C. locations at 301 Water St. SE and 1407 T St. NW. Visit www.icecreamjubilee.com.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!