Scoop: Del's/Palagi's turf war gets heated
What's colder than an extra large slush on a hot summer day? The turf war going down between Palagis Ice Cream and Del's Lemonade.
Police have been called twice this past week — once by Del's driver Roxanne Orien, once by Palagis driver Duncan O'Brien — with each accusing the other of selling frozen treats without the proper town approval. One of the arguments between the two got so heated that "it scared the customers," Warren Police Lt. Roy Borges said.
Animosity between the two summertime institutions isn't new, as the Town of Warren has for years allowed only one vendor to sell lemonade, ice cream and other concessions at the Town Beach, Hugh Cole School, Kickemuit Middle School and town fields.
Last June, after the town council was set to award the yearly contract to Del's (the high bidder), Mr. O'Brien appealed to council members to choose Palagis instead, even though he bid less than Del's: The reason? The contract calls for the sale of ice cream and slush, though Del's only sells slush, he said.
"I carry 36 different varieties of frozen novelties," Mr. O'Brien told the council. "What about the ice cream? Del's doesn't have it. And not only that, I've got the best lemonade that Warren has ever seen."
The council agreed and awarded him the contract.
The animosity this year started just after 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, when Ms. Orien pulled in to the Hugh Cole School parking lot to sell slush. According to a police report, she said Mr. O'Brien ran over to her yellow and green truck as she arrived, yelling that she was in violation of the town contract that he'd been awarded last year. After the confrontation, Lt. Borges said, "she took off."
Two days later, at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday, May 2, Mr. O'Brien was selling ice cream at the Kickemuit Middle School when the Del's truck again pulled up. There were no words exchanged this time, but Mr. O'Brien called police to report that "Ms. Orien continued to violate the contract on a daily basis."
In response, Ms. Orien said Palagis, and not Del's, was in violation.
Who's right? According to the town clerk's office, Palagis, and not Del's, still has sole permission to sell ice cream and slush at town fields and spaces. The contract signed last year remains in effect until next Tuesday, May 14, when the Warren Town Council signs the concession rights for the coming year.
Unlike last year, though, there will likely be little drama in awarding the bid. Palagi's is the sole outfit to bid on the concession contract this year, bidding $750 for the right to sell. Del's did not submit a bid by the deadline last Friday.
Messages were left at both Palagis headquarters in Pawtucket and at the Del's on Child Street in Warren. Neither were returned prior to deadline.