ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Crown Candy, the popular ice cream parlor and candy store that’s been around since 1913, is hoping to reverse a slowdown in business the owner blames on “false perceptions” about crime and safety in Old North St. Louis.
A visit Tuesday found the booths crowded with customers munching on BLTs and drawing on straws stuck in malt glasses. But owner Andy Karandzieff says too often lately there’s no line out the door and some booths are empty.
“Restaurants don’t die a quick death. We die a slow death,” Karandzieff said. “And sometimes it happens so slowly, you don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s too late. So, I’m not gonna be that guy.”
Karandzieff is working social media to promote Crown Candy, and combat a perception that the neighborhood is unsafe.
“In the grand scheme of how many people live in the city, and how many people travel through the city and work in the city?” Karandzieff said, “it’s not that bad. You can come down here with your family and have lunch, or you can come down here on your lunch hour and have lunch.”
Karandzieff believes the drop off in business began in August of 2014, when he says media coverage of the Ferguson protests gave people the false impression that it’s unsafe to go into the city. Since then, he says, business has been spotty –somedays good, lined up out the door, other days slow.
Asked if the proliferation of downtown food trucks might be cutting into his business, Karandzieff says it’s not that. But he wonders if more officer workers may be staying close to downtown because many have only 45 minutes or so for lunch.
Testing a new strategy, Karandzieff says he’ll soon be unveiling Crown Candy lunches available through food delivery services — a BLT, malt and chili delivered to your office.
In the meantime, the family continues to make its famous chocolate Santa Claus and other confections in the back room.
“The holidays are coming,” Karandzieff said. “If you’ve got to buy Christmas presents — especially you big corporations or big companies — buy them from a local place. Support your local guys. We’re here for you, and we need you to be here for us.”