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Cero’s Candies moving to less-sunny side of the street

03/23/2013 7:20 AM

03/23/2013 7:22 AM

Ed Cero has been gone from his family’s Cero’s Candies for more than a decade, but his advice lives on.

“Ed Cero had actually written little notes,” says Pam Bishop , who has owned the business with her daughter, Darcy , for two years.

They inherited the notes that Cero left for the previous owner.

“One of his notes was, ‘Never put a candy shop on the north side of the street,’ ” Pam Bishop says.

The Bishops agree – too much of their chocolate is melting due to the winter sun – and are moving the store from the north side of Douglas downtown to the south side of Douglas at Happiness Plaza in College Hill .

“We’re constantly shifting candy around,” Pam Bishop says.

“The sun beats in and melts the chocolate no matter how cold we keep the room,” Darcy Bishop says.

Instead of holding chocolate right now, one of the store’s cases has a big sugar Easter egg Ed Cero made in 1982.

The business, which opened in 1885, has been at a variety of addresses, mostly along Douglas on the north and south sides.

Pam Bishop says the store’s current space is a little big for its needs.

Cero’s will move from 2,800 square feet at 1108 E. Douglas to 1,600 square feet at 3429 E. Douglas, most likely on Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s got more usable space than we have now,” Darcy Bishop says of the new space.

For instance, a dessert cafe the Bishops tried in a side room at the current space didn’t work out.

“It was a little awkward, so we stopped doing it,” Pam Bishop says.

At the new space, a former house where the Bag Ladies used to be, there will be room in the front of the store for tables and chairs. There also will be Wi-Fi.

The Bishops added ice cream sales in summer months after they bought the store. With the move into the College Hill neighborhood, Pam Bishop expects those sales to do better.

“That’s going to be a bigger draw there than it is here.”

She says Cero’s used to sell ice cream in the 1940s.

“Cero’s had a whole ice cream soda fountain back in the ’40s,” Pam Bishop says. “The big deal in the ’40s was to go to Kings-X for a burger and then go next door and watch them make candy … and have an ice cream sundae. We have a lot of older people come in and tell us as a small child that was their favorite thing to do. That was their big treat. It’s really fun to hear those stories.”

The business was started by “ Candy Pete Cero , a native of Greece who came to Wichita for railroad work in 1883. The crew left him behind when he became ill, and he turned to candy-making to make money.

Pam Bishop says Cero’s didn’t make chocolates until the 1930s.

She says the store sold tobacco, peanut brittle and taffy early on, and records show it once had a lunch counter, too.

The Bishops have added their own touches to the business.

“We split our case between the Cero flavors that Ed did, and then we added our own flair to it,” Darcy Bishop says.

They’ve added truffles and peanut butter cups, among other things.

“We’ve been trying to make changes all along,” Pam Bishop says.

That’s led to growth.

“It’s slower than we … had hoped, but it is growing and is getting bigger,” Pam Bishop says. “It’s getting there.”

Yager resigns

Joe Yager has resigned as CEO of the Regional Economic Area Partnership .

“REAP appreciates his seven years of service,” says Nancy McCarthy Snyder , director of Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affair s .

The school has a contractual relationship with REAP to provide consultation and staff support.

On Tuesday, Have You Heard? reported that Yager forwarded a release from the state water office to members of REAP’s water committee that contained several lines of a sexual nature amid otherwise mundane news of a forthcoming meeting in Hutchinson. Yager says he accidentally copied and pasted the sex text from a spam e-mail while trying to delete it.

Wednesday, Yager was placed on administrative leave.

McCarthy Snyder won’t go into details about his resignation.

“Basically, it’s a personnel issue,” she says. “We’ve resolved the issue and really don’t have any comment.”

Misty Bruckner, associate director of the Center for Urban Studies at the Hugo Wall School, will be the main REAP contact for now.

“She and I will be handling … REAP matters until we get a permanent solution and get permanent staff,” McCarthy Snyder says.

Yager didn’t return a call for comment.

You don’t say

“I am not that guy. And I don’t have his money. But I’m still alive, so I think I have the more advantageous position.”

– District 1 City Council candidate Dave Thomas , who on Friday told the Wichita Pachyderm Club that he’s not the late Dave Thoma s who founded Wendy’s

Carrie Rengers first reported these items on her blog. Be among the first to get her business scoops at blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard.

About Carrie Rengers

Carrie Rengers joined The Eagle's Business team in 2002 despite her inability to even balance a checkbook. Fortunately for her, and readers, her Have You Heard? blog is about business scoops and contains lots of news but almost no math.

A Michigan native, Carrie’s father was quite tragically transferred to Little Rock, Ark., in the middle of her sophomore year of high school. To make matters worse, her parents put her in a girls school. She recovered, though, and went on to enjoy being an English major at Hendrix College (the Harvard of the Ozarks, don’t you know). She worked for the weekly Arkansas Business and the statewide daily Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before moving to Wichita to be with her favorite writer and cook, husband Joe Stumpe.

Carrie encourages readers to contact her with tips, questions, behind-the-scenes business news and even funny quotes from business people. Reach her at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com


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