Cones By Design: 25 years developing skills and serving up smiles

| 28 Mar 2019 | 02:23

    By Mandy Coriston
    Byram - Cones by Design, the remarkable dessert shop on Route 206, celebrates its 25th anniversary on March 31 with a day of special discounts, Buy-one-get-one-free sundaes, and a coloring contest for children ages 3-13.
    The shop is an enterprise of the Center for Humanistic Change of New Jersey (CHCNJ) and serves as a training incubator and workplace for clients of CHCNJ. The social services agency provides assistance to adults with developmental disabilities throughout northern New Jersey via group homes and employment opportunities.
    Barbara Freeman, who had been a direct care worker at CHCNJ for nearly two decades, took over management of the ice cream parlor last fall.
    “No one ever comes in unhappy,” she said, “The staff or the customers. We have some customers who come on certain days, just to see specific people who are working. They’ve built real relationships, and no one leaves without a smile.”
    Dave, who has worked at the shop on and off for the last ten years, said he loves making cakes and ice cream sandwiches, and dipping custom cones. His coworker, Toni, has been at the shop for six years, and says she prefers to talk to customers.
    “My favorite part is running the cash register,” she said.
    Loretta Kennedy, CHCNJ’s career design director, said shop sponsorship of little league, attending Byram Day, and community donations are part of the shop's success. Kennedy and Freeman ensure employees develop skills and confidence that lead to independence.
    “We even had an individual who moved on to the Lake Hopatcong McDonald’s in 1997, and she’s still working there," Kennedy said.
    The ice cream parlor was chosen as business model due to adaptability of the training and because ice cream sales stand the test of time.
    “Plus, this storefront had a drive-through window,” she said. “We thought that was pretty unique, too.”
    Freeman teaches cleaning and maintenance skills as well as safe food handling, customer service and retail duties, and cake decoration.
    “They can decide what they want to learn, and once we’ve met those needs and mastered a task, we can move on to another," she said. "We are always building on the skill before.”
    Cones by Design offers hard and soft serve ice cream in dozens of flavors, plus non-fat frozen yogurt and sugar-free options. They also have gluten-free cones and the shop’s novelties include ice cream sandwiches, chocolate-covered bananas; penguin puffs (bonbon-sized treats which are customizable for flavor and toppings); custom ice cream cakes should be pre-ordered.
    Cones by Design is open seven days a week, year-round, and with their 25th anniversary party on Sunday, will start summer hours, from noon-10 p.m. daily. The shop is handicapped-accessible, and offers a 10 percent discount for senior citizens and veterans on Tuesdays, and frequent customers can make use of a punch card. The ice cream parlor can be reached by phone at 973-691-4540, or found online at Manager Barbara Freeman encourages checking the Facebook page for coupons and specialty cake photos.
    What: Cones by Design 25th Anniversary Party
    When: Noon-10 p.m., Sunday, March 31, 2019
    Where: Cones by Design, 12 Rt. 206 North, Byram Township (Stanhope, 07874 for GPS)
    Who: Anyone who loves ice cream
    Why: 25% off (excluding cakes) or Buy One Get One Free Sundaes, Coloring Contest (ages 3-13) for chance to win gift certificate. (Entries due by 3/31, winners chosen on 4/4)