Boaters on Long Lake or Brandy Pond who hear the familiar jingle of an ice cream truck might be in for a treat.
On any given day that the sun shines, Barbara and Richard Vieira’s Chunky Dunky Ice Cream boat travels along Brandy Pond and Long Lake to the Sebago Sandbar, where it occasionally anchors so customers can approach by foot.
It’s their second summer on the job, and business is booming, they said. In addition to anchoring at the Sandbar, they’ll go dockside, and moor at beaches and alongside boats on the water. They also serve ice cream at birthday, graduation or other parties onshore.
“This year has really taken off. The kids wave you down every time,” Barbara Vieira said. “Every customer is happy. The kids have fun and get excited. The older people get excited about hearing the music. It’s just a fun job.”
The Vieiras, of Porter, transformed their pontoon boat and their summer pastime into an ice cream delivery service last summer after selling the laundromat they had owned for 20 years.
“Twenty years is long enough to be in the laundromat business,” Barbara Vieira said. “I used to work at a school as the kitchen manager, and I had the summers off. We were like, ‘What can we do that we can still go boating all summer?’”
The name of the business comes from a term of endearment in Richard Vieira’s family, referring jokingly to someone’s size, while he was growing up. When the couple and their four children brainstormed names for the business, Chunky Dunky was the crowd favorite, they said.
“It’s actually great because I think it sticks with people. They remember the name,” Barbara Vieira said.
Though many of their customers are kids, adults also enjoy the ice cream boat.
“I’ve never seen something like this before. It’s an awesome idea and a lot of family fun,” said Debbie Walsh, a customer who spends the summers on Long Lake with her family.
The boat has a large menu, ranging from popsicles to ice cream sandwiches to ice cream cups and even a vanilla cup and dog treat for pets. The Vieiras get their supplies from a few local distributors, including Thibodeau’s and Hershey’s, and they’ve had some trouble keeping up with demand and keeping ice cream in stock.
“It’s been hard to keep something on the menu all summer long,” Richard Vieira said.
“Everybody’s complaining that they’re having trouble getting people to work. They have a shortage of a lot of stuff. They just don’t have it. They’re not getting their deliveries, which affects us, so when we can get something, we stock up,” Barbara Vieira said.
The other limiting factor, besides the supply of ice cream, is the weather. The couple will take the boat out as much as possible – weather permitting.
“If it’s sunny out, we’re out,” Barbara Vieira said. “We usually go out around noontime. Sometimes we’ll bring our Crockpot out on the boat and just have supper cooking with us.”
For customers, having easy access to ice cream and hearing the familiar ice cream truck jingle on a day on the lake is a welcome treat.
“My kids live for it,” said Libby Sawyer, who lives on Long Lake year round. “You guys are good to us.”