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Shelter Islanders scream for ice cream

It’s been a profitable season for the Tuck Shop and the Whale’s Tale as summer temperatures heated up, sending customers to both businesses in search of cool treats.

It was a slow start, Tuck Shopowner John Sieni said. But with the emergence of the long summer days and nights, customers begin lining up for chocolate chip cookiewiches, flying saucers and grab and go pints and quarts of ice cream.

The Rock Beverage line of soft drinks and beer Mr. Sieni added were also popular with customers this summer, he said.

The Tuck Shop has been a staple on Shelter Island since 1980, when it was opened by Bill and Pat Sulahian. The name came from Pat, who had taught in Germany, traveled in Europe and liked the name — Tuck Shops — of sellers of snacks in England. When Ms. Sulahian first opened the Tuck Shop she sold candy as well.

In 2019, Mr. Sieni bought the iconic Island summer spot and gave it a full makeover.

At Whale’s Tale, operator Erich Inzerillo has stayed true to the usual ice cream products that he’s provided for years, only adding low fat and sugar free products, but resisting suggestions to add products he regards as “fads” and “gimmicks.”

Restaurants and other Island businesses had struggles with staffing, but that wasn’t the case with the two sweet shops. Whale’s Tale has generally been a one-man operation handled by Mr. Inzerillo.

When Mr. Sieni bought the shop from Pat Sulahian, he continued the long tradition of hiring Island high school students, augmented by a few returning college students.

Operating the Whale’s Tale means selling his ice cream products and setting up customers who want to play a round of miniature golf, and its seem to be a happy balance.

Mr. Inzerillo had all the greens resurfaced before he opened and resurfaced the tennis court. “Everything is up to par,” he said with those improvements.

At the Tuck Shop, Mr. Sieni had a new basement and black top parking lot installed this spring, finishing off “much needed renovations,” he said.

Now that Labor Day has passed, the hours have been scaled back at the Tuck Shop — operating between 3 and 11 p.m. on Fridays;  11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Both businesses anticipate operating through the Columbus Day weekend in October before closing until next spring.