MONTCLAIR, NJ — Aaron Brunert arrived at his job at a Montclair-based ice cream shop on Friday thinking it was a regular day—until Mike Guerriero, owner of the Gelotti ice cream, gelato and Italian-ice shops in Montclair, Caldwell and Randolph, called him to the front counter and gave him the keys to a car.
Gelotti, which is being rebranded as Gelati by Mike, opened the Montclair and Caldwell locations in 2014 and has since opened up shop in Randolph as well. Brunert joined the company in 2017 and has been an interral part of the business since, according to Guerriero.
"Aaron is an indispensable part of everything we do and one could argue we would not have been able to enter and win Gelato Festival without him," said Guerriero, who recently earned a national title for his blueberry basil gelato at the 2019 Gelato Festival America in Miami, Fla.
Guerriero added that Brunert does far more than he could ask, including driving ice cream over to a sick customer's house last week and taking over operations while the owner was competing at the gelato festival. Brunert also created the Montclair Make Music Day flavor.
"Aaron embodies much more than an employee," said Guerriero. "At this point, he is our family."
According to Guerriero Brunert has encountered a series of misfortunate events over the last year, including a health scare. Guerriero noted that he has never heard Brunert complain or ask anyone for help; but when Brunert's car broke down last week and he began taking a taxi from Garfield to work in Montclair each day, Guerriero and his wife, Bre, decided to pitch in.
They met up with a local couple that was looking to sell a car and struck a deal. The couple, Ron and Brittney Brown, came to the shop on Friday to give the keys, car and title to Brunert.
"I am just so grateful and overwhelmed with joy," Brunert said after he received the keys. "My heart is full."
Guerriero stated that one of his main goals in life is to be able to give back to the community and others.
"We do our best to take care of our community," he said. "We try to make choices that will create the most positive impact by changing the lives of our employees and investing in our current and future shops so that this growing family can have opportunities for their future.
"Nothing I could have bought myself would have given me the same warm feeling as watching Aaron hug Ron and his wife, and the relief of knowing that the guy who does so much to make sure Bre and I are alright has one more thing to smile about."