The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 4, 1997 · Page 87
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 87

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 4, 1997
Page 87
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V? ->>-': i < ; //-. IB. .SUNDAY, -jl/'i I;; ^i 99? t ) < > -i y» / t, SHOP THE SAUNA JOURNAL Candy Land Texas entrepreneur finds sweet deal in appealing to customers' sweet tooth By ART CHAPMAN Fort Worth Star-Telegram ICO, Texas — Kevin Wenzel has two things going for his busi- I 1 ness in this small central Texas «JL JlLtown that he believes are unbeatable. "First I have this house," he says of his A huge Victorian-style home near downtown. "And I have chocolate." Wenzel owns Wiseman House Chocolates, on Texas- Highway 6 next door to the Koffee Kup Family Restaurant. It is an imposing home, freshly painted with an intriguing turret positioned on top. "The large frame house was built in 1903 by Rufus Wiseman, an internationally known photographer," Wenzel says. "I bought it five or six months ago, and after some renovation, opened it in January as both my home and chocolate company. I live upstairs." Wenzel named his company after Wiseman, he says, because everyone in town associates the house with the photographer. He even named a couple of his rich chocolate truffle creations after the former owners. There is a Dark Rufus, and a Coco Adeline, named after Wiseman's wife. "The reception has been very good here," the 32-year-old proprietor says of his new business. "What attracts people is the house and the word chocolate. I just have a small sign out front — you can hardly read it — but people are coming in." Customers undergo a certain cultural transition when they enter Wenzel's shop. Although the sounds of pickups and cattle trailers dominate the outside, opera on the storewide music system prevails inside. Several rooms are decorated with fine antique furniture. The rich European-style chocolates are not peanut-laden candy bars. "We are still test-marketing some of "What attracts people is the house and the word chocolate. I just have a small sign out front — you can hardly read it — but people are coming in.' Kevin Wenzel owner of Wiseman House Chocolates in Hico, Texas the chocolates to see how people respond," Wenzel says. "We use very fine chocolate from Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Many of the recipes I'm using come from an old candy maker in Missouri." The best sellers, by far, are the truffles, he says. They are small, about the size of malted milk balls, but densely rich. Wenzel quartered one and handed it over. "Just hold it in your mouth and let it warm up and melt slowly," he instructs. In a glass counter, adjacent to the truffles, rest huge blocks of chocolate fudge that look like freshly baked loaves of bread. Some are flavored with pecans, some with walnuts. Some just deep, dark unadulterated chocolate. The store sells prepackaged, commercially made chocolate items as well as homemade brittle and toffees. It also sells gift items such as baskets, old photos, knickknacks and antiques. "We're trying to not get too cute with the gift items," he says. "We do well with the antiques as long as we keep to the more elegant kinds." The kitchen is relatively small and is cluttered with various chocolate-making devices and molds. On" one table, lights flicker, heating a dish of swirling chocolate to just the right temperature. "This is just a test kitchen," Wenzel explains. "It is where I experiment with different recipes. Most of the chocolate is made at my father's store near Hamilton." Ron Wenzel, Kevin's father, owns Dutchman's Hidden Valley, a group of shops on U.S. 281 just north of Hamilton and about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth. It was at his father's urging that Kevin Wenzel decided to leave his job in Dallas and move again to the central Texas hills. "I grew up in a little community near- by called Fairy," Kevin Wenzel said. "I went to college to be a painter and spent time overseas in Thailand and Latvia. I ended up in Dallas working for an interior design company. "My dad always talked about opening a candy company, and I think his ulterior motive was to get me to come back here and settle down." Wenzel said he made the move because Come in and enjoy the best buffet in Salina.,. Located in the Flying J Travel Plaza 2250 N. Ohio • Salina, 1-70 N. Ohio Exit • 913-825-6200 Breakfast Buffet 6 ain-11 am Lunch Buffet 11 ain-4 pin Dinner Buffet 4 pm-10 pm Open 24 Hours Carved Beef and Ham Daily 4 pm-10 pm he wanted a stronger sense of family and community. "Living in Dallas was kind of a shallow life," he said. "Here I am very involved." He is already looking for a second house in the Hico area, one where he and his fiancee can live after their September wedding. He has named a truffle for her, too. ^l A "unique"place to stay! M r-£-' s kl . --—I dry fA .[ivMnnwii fA M \] Exotic &*&* '* v\ Animal Farm and [\ Bed & Breakfast Inn H ?A Tours, Hayrides, kl kl Banquet Facilities, and More! ft Call for more information 316/422-3245 Meat R.R. 3. Box 7, Bi'loit, KS kl « fl lAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAr 7 /nj'/e wej/, 1/4 mile south of 24-14 Jet. (913) Choose from: •Roasts 'Steaks •Burgers 'Sausages & much more! Accepting shipments from all over the U.S. GUIDED FISHING TRIPS Waconda Lake at Glen Elder (Up To 8 Fishermen) Crappie & White Bass Day Outings & also Specializing in Night Bass Fishing Under The Lights Call Ron evenings 913-428-3327 for dates & reservations R&B Guide Services 105 S. Mechanic Jewell, KS One night or the whole weekend, you'll feel riant at home. 1616 W. Crawford - Salina 2 blocks east of the Crawford Street Exit on 1-35

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