MONROE, Conn. -- Donelle Toner wanted to re-create a business that harks back to a simpler time. And so, in honor of her grandmother, who incidentally lived to 101 "by doing everything in moderation," her three-year old candy store/tea shop has turned into a "sweet" attraction.
Toner, a longtime teacher in the Milford school system who grew up in Trumbull, said she always wanted to open her own business. When the opportunity arose, she knew exactly what she wanted to do -- and who she wanted to name it after.
Grandma Josie's is known for its homemade treats, including peanut brittle, almond patties, coconut clusters, and dipped Oreo cookies. The shop also features Lake Champlain chocolates from Vermont, fudge from Mill Fudge Factory in Bristol, N.H,. and a host of sugar-, lactose- and gluten-free candy. There's even ice cream as well as candy novelty gifts and lots of items to mix and match in bags to go.
Customers will also find tea and light lunches served at cozy tables located in the back of the store where Toner hosts a variety of events, complete with a piano for lively renditions of "Happy Birthday." (She's also a musician.) For more elaborate culinary selections, there is a caterer next door that accommodates any and all needs.
Plus, Toner has stable of artists who lend a hand when Grandma Josie's hosts paint parties for kids and adults. According to Toner, the place is very big with mom's night out events.
An illustrated portrait of Grandma hangs nearby as do breakfronts filled with china that can't help but remind one of, well, grandma's house.
Said Toner: "I wanted to create a happy, fun place."
Grandma Josie's is at 477 Main St., Monroe, 203-590-3301, www.grandmajosiescandies.com/ .
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