WICHITA — 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 instead 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, which is 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 WiFi.
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 in the early days, 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.”