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Staff at Orange business abused repeatedly over lack of ice-cream

June 14, 2022

Stock image, digitally altered.

By Peter Holmes

In 34 years of journalism I don't recall ever having to put these words together into a sentence, but here goes: Can moviegoers who don't get an ice-cream please stop abusing the staff?

Mitzi Cronk from Odeon 5 Cinemas is at her wit's end.

For weeks now staff at the cinema complex have been hassled and abused by patrons who discover that choc tops have sold out.

Odeon 5 hand makes all its choc tops, which come in a variety of flavours.

"They take hours to make and they sell out in minutes," Cronk told The Orange News Examiner.

This leaves some customers wanting a choc top but not able to get one. Most people move on from this disappointment. Some do not.

They question the staff, harrumph and point at the freezer cabinets asking what the staff are hiding back there. They suggest the staff just go out the back and make some more.

Some even say - and I never thought I'd write this either - that the only reason they come to the cinema is for the $5 choc top, with the movie part of the adventure merely a backdrop irritant to the main task of enjoying a cone.

"I know for some people the movie is their day out, or they save a big blowout where they can eat what they want," Cronk said.

"A lot of senior people get upset with us - it's their little treat for the week."

She understands the disappointment, but says in the grand scheme of things it's a bit of a first-world problem, and not one worthy of giving staff a gob full.

"It's just nasty," she said.

"I did a big shift yesterday (Monday) and it was so busy, and the last call I took before I left was a young sounding lady.

"She didn't say hello, she just said, 'Have you got choc tops today?', and I said, 'No I'm so sorry we're sold out', and she said, 'Well it's not really good enough, is it?', and then she said, 'Well why don't you just get in there and make some for me real quick right now?'

"It just really got me down yesterday."

Odeon 5 Cinemas has 12 choc top flavours.

"I think that's why people get so excited," Cronk said. "We order all the different flavours of Peter's ice-cream, but some are much easier to make than others.

"Vanilla is really creamy and the spoon just glides through it. We'll often have vanilla [choc tops ready to serve] before we have anything else.

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"Choc-mint is really hard to make, it's very crumbly and just falls apart and it's really hard to mould, so that's the last one we usually get out, because it takes so much extra time. But that's the flavour people love."

Making choc tops is a labour-intensive process, and that is part of the shortage issue.

The flavours of ice-cream must first be softened. When the consistency is right, the cone is filled with a ball of ice-cream, with care taken not to break the cone.

The ice-cream dome is shaped on top, then the cone is chilled until it is set.

"Then you warm up the chocolate, let the chocolate cool, then choc your choc tops. Then you've got to let them sit so the chocolate sets, then you bag them up and put them out the front."

The popular NSW government Dine & Discover vouchers have been good for the cinema in terms of boosting a trade that was savaged by Covid, but it has also slowed down the process of getting people into the cinemas, which means staff have less time to be out back making choc tops.

"Everyone's got the vouchers, and it takes that bit longer to get people through, some people don't know how to log into their account," said Cronk.

Add to that the long lines of people waiting to see the blockbusters Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick and you have the perfect storm.

"When we're not busy we can get through [more choc tops]. I think my record is 18 tubs in a day, and you get 15 to 16 choc tops from each tub.

"You can get quite a few out, but not when we're so busy out the front."

Although the cinema prides itself on hand making all the choc tops, it is considering the option of bringing in some commercially produced ice-creams for use when the choc tops have sold out.


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