Author: Jacqueline Nee, BSU student
2020 has been a tumultuous year for so many businesses, yet Ellie’s Treats has found a niche market in delivering smiles in the form of ice cream sundaes and treats to families all over the South Shore. When food truck festivals, fireworks and booked events started getting cancelled, Dan and Katie Keefe, who own Ellie’s Treats, knew that they needed to change their approach to market to be successful in the 2020 season.
Ellie’s Treats is owned and operated by husband and wife duo Dan and Katie. Dan is the primary owner and had operated ice cream trucks for over 10 years. Dan has also worked in the food industry most of his career and that is where they met. While working in a restaurant and over time decided to try something on their own. They saved and bought a truck to start their unique desert food truck business which they named after their daughter Ellie. They started Ellie’s Treats in 2018 and they serve up custom sundaes and treats wherever the road brings them. Dan is the ice cream scooper and food truck maintainer, while Katie’s the social media queen. This is a great partnership which has helped them to build a successful company and grow during a time that has challenged many local businesses. Most years they travel to food truck rodeos, fireworks and other local events. They sell delicious hand-made ice cream sundaes, ice cream novelties treats and slushes right out of their colorfully painted Ellie’s Treats truck.
So I wondered, what do they consider the secret to their success and recent boom in business? Faced with Covid 19 and the social distancing guidelines, they started a new approach with home sundae kit deliveries. In the midst of the pandemic when people were not leaving their homes much, the Ellie’s treats team masked up, gloved up and delivered the goodies directly to customer around the South Shore. Kids got to wait in the window and watch for the ice cream truck to come right to them! It became a local phenomenon and most of the spread was due to their use of Facebook. Social media has been their primary mode of contact with potential customers and booking customers. Katie said that her very first post about delivery of sundae kits currently has over 50,000 likes. Their Facebook page went from several hundred likes to over 5,000 likes. Information regarding delivery days and options was transmitted via Facebook and according to Katie, they “went viral”. When people were really stuck at home and looking for something to do, Ellie’s Treats was able to deliver. Now that businesses are starting to bring employees back in to the office, Ellie’s is offering some services there as well. They have been able to deliver to businesses for corporate events, such as employee appreciation days, while maintaining proper social distancing procedures.
Their hope is that for the near future, business will maintain as it has been for the last few months. So many local businesses on the South Shore are facing uncertainty and the small businesses have been hit the hardest. Ellie’s Treats have been able to embrace technology and social media in conjunction with creative business strategies to be able to thrive in a challenging market. Like most business they hope that the trend continues for them. The largest uncertainty for Ellie’s Treats right now is wondering what will happen next year and whether the current pandemic will influence new changes for next year. There are still some towns that are restricting the sale of food from food trucks and if other towns were to develop new regulations, it could affect business. Dan and Katie admitted that the last several months has been a huge learning curve for them as a business as they continue to respond to demand and the current market. I believe their proven ability to adapt and work with a situation will help them to be successful despite whatever the coming year brings.