, Salem, MA


February 12, 2014

Mmmmm ... makeover

New family owners plan to bring candy, ice-cream making processes out into open

Family-owned Putnam Pantry Candies has been a roadside attraction along Route 1 in Danvers since 1951.

Lately, however, it seems its loyal customers are treating the sweet shop like an elderly aunt who lives out of state: much loved but seldom visited.

All that may change soon as a third generation of the Emerson family has taken over the ownership and operation. But while changes are in store at the candy and ice cream shop at 255 Newbury St., it will still offer a wide selection of homemade candies and its make-your-own sundae bar.

”We want to keep all the things we think are important,” said Eric Emerson, 54, of Danvers, who with his wife, Cathie, took over the business in August from his father, Galo Emerson Jr., the son of Putnam Pantry’s founder. At 81, Galo Emerson Jr. still makes candy for the business.

Eric also runs a financial consulting firm; Cathie runs the shop day-to-day. Putnam Pantry employs 32 people, most of whom work part time.

”It’s an icon. It’s a tradition for a lot of families,” Emerson said. “But ... over the years, a lot of people have kind of forgotten about it. The building kind of blends into the background, so we want to remind them of the reasons to come back and to give them some new reasons.”

They are now making renovations to the rambling ice cream shop and candy factory, with the shop closing on some Mondays during the winter so this work can be done. In another change, the Emersons plan to start making their own ice cream at Putnam Pantry for the first time in nearly 45 years, after attending an ice cream course at Penn State last January.

Renovations include the construction of a chocolate kitchen on the first floor to bring the candy-making up from the basement and in view of customers. They plan to add baked goods and coffee. The whole place will be spruced up, but the country-store feel will remain.

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