For months I passed by the future home of Nuggs Ice Cream, watching the construction project and waiting for the hot summer day when the place would finally open and my family and I could mosey on over for dessert. That day came recently when we walked to Marczyk's II, drawn as much by Friday burger night as the promise of neighborhood camaraderie. We found both there, with folks on picnic blankets and at tables laughing and making new friends over fat, juicy burgers. But that camaraderie came to an abrupt end when we walked across the street to finish our meal at Nuggs. See also:The ten best places for ice cream in Denver
I asked for a taste, as did my kids. Having grown up at places like Sweet Action, they've learned not to shy away from strange names, which often translate to spectacular ice cream flavors -- but not always, hence the need for a taste. Some of them ordered what they tried on the little spoon. Others asked for a second taste -- in my case because the toasted coconut wasn't as toasty as I'd hoped it would be. At $3.99 a scoop, I didn't want to waste my money on a so-so flavor.
At premium ice cream parlors -- something that Nuggs is trying to be, given its high price point -- free tastes are the norm. But apparently the employee scooping our cones didn't think so. "What are you trying to do, fill up on tastes so you don't have to buy a cone?" he barked. I was so taken aback, I didn't know what to say.
I can't think of the number of times I've watched servers at Bonnie Brae patiently hand out tastes to entire soccer teams. And when I called Sweet Action to ask about their policy on tastes, I was told, "Try as many as you like!" What these companies know is that happy customers are repeat customers.
But it's hard to be happy when you've paid nearly $20 for two single cones and three kids' cones with scoops no larger than golf balls, and have been accused of freeloading. I felt like I had gotten mugged at Nuggs, and put in a call to find out the official sampling policy there. And it sounds like my server had gone rogue.
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"I've had people try close to every flavor, with no limits" says Justin Norris, an assistant manager at Nuggs. "I'm really sorry about that; that's not acceptable. We try to instill the fact that it's all about the customer."