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Little Man Ice Cream responds to customers upset over mask policy

Recent behavior of a few customers at the Denver ice cream shop shocked owner Paul Tamburello.

DENVER — Ice cream can melt a man's heart. 

Paul Tamburello loved ice cream so much he opened Little Man Ice Cream in Denver and named his dog Scoop.

"I usually find a hobby and then it becomes a business," Tamburello said. 

Closing down his business during the COVID-19 pandemic was tough, but his young staff had some difficulties reopening, too.

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Despite the ice cream shop following city guidance by requiring customers to wear masks, Tamburello said some patrons have gotten upset and taken it out on staff.

“That one percent has been pretty adamant about not having to wear [a mask] and has been pretty vocal about it," he said.

Tamburello described one incident where a customer upset over the mask policy intentionally coughed on the counter of the ice cream shop and in the direction of guests.

He said another customer spat on one his teenage employees. Tamburello called the behavior shocking.

“I understand people’s choice not to wear a mask," he said. "I don’t understand them taking it up with a 16-year-old scooping ice cream. I just feel like that’s not the place to do that.”

The ice cream shop owner felt strongly enough to share his feelings on Facebook, and he's not one to post very often.

"In the last week, our staff have reported some guest experiences that literally makes my heart hurt around our requirement for people to wear masks," Tamburello wrote.

Tamburello called the stories he heard from employees "beyond upsetting."

"C’mon folks, this is a minor inconvenience at best," he wrote. "We ask you to please wear a mask when you come see us. We are making the best choices we can to protect the young people in our care. I implore you to be courteous and observe our regulations."

Tamburello's post from Monday afternoon had been shared more than 230 times as of Tuesday.

The ice cream shop owner asked those who refuse to wear a mask at his shop to pick up a pint of ice cream elsewhere. 

“Let’s really be the best role models we can for these young people who are trying to do the right thing," Tamburello said.

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