Creating chocolate delights makes new candy store a hit in Ocean Park

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Caroline Jones and husband Dave own and operate Davey Jones' Locker in Ocean Park, a combination candy store and chocolate factory just east of Okie's Sentry market.

OCEAN PARK - "If you can't have fun in a candy store, then you must not be alive," Caroline Jones said as she finished cooking up a delicious batch of peanut butter fudge Friday.

She and husband David own and operate Davey Jones' Locker, a combination candy store and candy factory, just east of Okie's Sentry Market on Bay Avenue in Ocean Park.

The Jones are no strangers to cooking or to creating delicious candy, as the couple has worked in the cooking industry since the early 1980s.

"We met while we were both cooking at a local restaurant, and we worked side by side in a candy factory," Caroline explained.

"David is a master at making truffles just right," she said. "Truffles are our specialty, and he gets the 'melt-away' centers just right, which isn't an easy thing to do." The Jones' make all of their chocolate and fudge products from scratch. In the relatively small shop they utilize the front as the retail portion and have a large cooker for fudges at one end.

The remaining rear portion of the shop houses a Hilliard's Chocolate System, a 30-foot long contraption called an enrober that looks for all the world like it just came straight from Willy Wonka himself. The chocolate is heated at one end and then passes through different stages where it is shaped and then travels on a conveyer belt as it cools.

"We can make 300 pounds of chocolates a day with the 'Willy Wonka' machine, otherwise I have to sit down and make them one at a time," Caroline said as she pointed to another, much smaller, candy machine by the window.

The candy store features mint and coffee truffles, peanut brittle, chocolate creams, and peanut and cashew clusters all created from scratch using the couple's own recipes. Fudges include peanut butter and vanilla cream with cranberries and then there is delicious carmel corn. The newest sweet created by the Jones is chocolate covered potato chips.

Each of the products made by the Jones' features a piece of paper with their dog Wrecx's picture on it and a brief history of the candy store. Wrecx is a chocolate Labrador, of course.

"We're always experimenting, trying new things to see if we like them," Caroline explained. "The payoff is seeing a kid's eyes light up when they come in. They are mesmerized."

Ironically Davy Jones' Locker shares the same building with Curves, an exercise center that recently opened in Ocean Park.

"I think it is marvelous that we have Curves for neighbors," Caroline said with a chuckle. "We often get ladies who have just finished working out and feel they have earned a treat - and what better treat is there than chocolate?"

The Jones do not advertise a great deal, relying on word of mouth (pun intended) and a small sandwich board with the traditional 'eye-popping' red and white colors to proclaim there is a candy store in Ocean Park.

"We don't want to make the mistake of becoming too big too soon," Caroline said.

"If we would have known all the work it takes to open our own business before we started, we probably would not have done it," she stated. "Remodeling, meeting regulations, getting the accounting system in place - that all was work."

Making customers happy is the fun part. "If we aren't busy making or selling candy, we are thinking of what to do next. I'm already planning for Christmas," Caroline said.

"David and I are really enjoying our semi-retirement years here at the beautiful beach and in a candy store," she said with her usual smile. "I just wish they would put chocolate on the Periodic Table as one of the standard elements."

The Jones certainly would get no arguments from their customers on that idea.

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