Since August 2020, Cal Poly’s on-campus creamery — which sells cheeses, meats and other dairy products — opened a student-run drive-thru where customers can pick up ice cream and cheese every Friday from noon to 4 p.m.
Wine and viticulture senior Emily Duci said she does not work directly at the drive-thru, but enjoys working at the dairy because of the “level of responsibility” that comes with it.
“It seems really fun and I like that we get to hand out ice cream,” she said. “It definitely improves how the creamery interacts with the community.”
The idea for the drive-thru came about after Cal Poly’s meat center decided to try it out, according to Dairy Processing Operations Manager Jennifer Pelayo.
“Because of COVID, we had very few avenues to sell ice cream,” Pelayo said. “This was a collaboration project with students and everybody here trying to figure out how to continue our program without losing, essentially, our presence in the community.”
The most popular flavor of ice cream is mud pie, according to Pelayo.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to expand more flavors and rotate flavors out throughout the year,” Pelayo said. “Part of our future goal is also to start selling fluid milk and maybe chocolate milk again.”
Pelayo’s favorite part about the drive-thru is the cow costume that students sometimes dress up in.
“Anybody that’s driving through, it keeps their spirits up,” she said. “We have a little sign that says ‘Honk if you love ice cream’ and hearing the honks as they come through just puts a smile on all of our faces.”
The drive-thru frequently gets repeat customers, according to Pelayo.
“Some of the people actually say now that this has become a tradition for them to come here, to the drive-thru,” she said. “They look forward to it with their kids on a weekly basis.”
Food science sophomore Kaitlyn Duong said that one of her favorite parts about working at the creamery is how her major pertains to the work she does there.
“The people that work there, making connections,” she said. “It’s just not food science majors or agriculture majors that work there, you get a little mix of everything.”
Dairy science senior Angelee Dowling said she has been working as a lab and quality student manager at Cal Poly’s creamery for about a year.
“It gives me a great opportunity to be able to teach other people at the creamery other things,” Dowling said. “I can also help teach them into becoming managers themselves, so it’s kind of fun as a lot of the people I’ve trained are managers now with me.”
Dowling said she loves that students have their ideas heard and that they can make decisions at the creamery.
“I get to see my major in action at the creamery, which is really cool,” she said.
According to Pelayo, the creamery itself has grown very successful since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their sales increased from approximately $200 a week to about $2,000 a week.
She said that without the students, the creamery would not be able to run.
“It’s nice for them to see that their hard work is paying off in terms of sales and seeing customers be happy with their finished product,” she said.
Pelayo said that even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends the creamery hopes to continue doing the drive-thru and possibly open up a “scoop shop.”