When it comes to candy, it’s all about having fun. That’s the inspiration behind the recently-opened OTR Candy Bar, a local candy store that combines old fashioned, fun candies with sweets made by local and regional candy makers.
“We enjoyed being part of OTR and loved seeing what was coming into the area,” says Co-owner Mike Petzelt.
As original investors in Rhinegeist, Petzelt says the team was having so much fun in the newly revitalized OTR neighborhood that they decided to also purchase the building at 1735 Elm Street. “The building had a great retail front located right across the street from the historical Findlay Market,” he says. “Going back and forth with my brother-in-law Patrick Muck, we came up with the idea of a candy shop.”
Petzelt, who has previous experience in the candy industry, knew several people who could help get his business idea off the ground. “We immediately reached out to family friend Stephanie Recht to add some style and class to our idea,” he adds.
Recht, who immediately jumped on board, became part of the team that reached out to developers in OTR. The group, Grey Rock Development, was familiar with the look and feel of the area and was able to get the OTR Candy Bar ready.
OTR Candy Bar opened in July 2015, just in time for the MLB All-Star Game that visited the Queen City. And now, a new streetcar stop made its way right in front of the stop which has also been a sweet new way to bring in business.
According to Petzelt, OTR Candy Bar is about creating new and reviving old memories, one sweet treat at a time. “OTR Candy Bar is about fun,” he says. “We wanted to mix old-fashioned, fun candies – the candies that people remember as part of their childhoods – with some great candies from local and regional candy makers.”
Petzelt says they’ve also added a soft serve ice cream machine, and that customers can add their favorite candy toppings to. With a selection of more than 50 flavors of nostalgic and unique flavored sodas, including Red Hot Soda, Bacon Flavored soda, and Dad’s Root Beer, you’re sure to have your sweet tooth satisfied when you’re done.
And while the concept was his brainchild, Petzelt says the business is now a family affair. “This was a venture we wanted to do and include all of our family,” he says. “All of our kids frequently help with various jobs and provide ideas to help make this fun!”
When you visit OTR Candy Bar, you’ll find a variety of old-time candies including Necco Wafers, Sugar Daddies, and Pop Rocks as well as the traditional favorites such as Sour Punches, Zots, Bean Boozled Jelly Beans, and a wall of bulk candies and nuts.
But much of what OTR Candy Bar prides itself on its going out and finding local candies. “It has been a big part of our growth,” says Petzelt. “We have items such as Mom Blakesman’s Cream Pulled Candies, Sunshine Caramels, Velveteen Chocolates, and Sweet Tooth Chocolates. We are constantly adding new and great tasting candies for our customers.”
When asked what it is that makes OTR Candy Bar unique, Petzelt says that it’s the fun that the store has been having. “We want our customers to become our friends and have us bring in candies they had as kids, or try a new flavor of soda, or send out a gift box to their child in college,” he says.
They also have a corporate gift basket program with unique and local candies. “We deliver, ship, or you can come pick them up and add in some of your favorites,” says Petzelt. You can also select “Candy Bars” that are filled with colorful, fun candies. “The Candy Bars can be for weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, school dances, and work or school events,” says Petzelt. “We also do birthday party bags, holiday gift bags, Halloween ideas – you name it, we can do it.”
With a staff that promotes good times and a unique experience, Petzelt hopes that OTR Candy Bar will be part of the growth and development of the Findlay Market and Over-the-Rhine area. In addition to its candy specialities, OTR Candy Bar also works with the Mack Family Foundation, a charitable organization that works to help less fortunate kids in the region.