Dining Out

Cayucos Candy Counter is a sweet spot on the North Coast

A colorful world of candy and chocolate, plus Doc Burnstein’s ice cream, SLO Baked cinnamon rolls, gelato and more, fill the shelves of this family-run shop

Special to The TribuneOctober 16, 2013 

  • Cayucos Candy Counter

    75 Cayucos Drive (at the foot of the pier), Cayucos | 995-1197 | cayucoscandycounter.com

    Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily in summertime (Memorial Day to Labor Day); also expanded hours for local special events.

    The scene: A family-owned and –operated candy store with the latest treats, retro candies, ice cream and gelato, coffee drinks, etc. Gift baskets also available for carry out or shipping.

    (For more information about the Cayucos Pier Project, go to savecayucospier.org.)

With Halloween on approach, candy is on the minds of many, but kids of all ages can appreciate the sweet treats available year round at the Cayucos Candy Counter.

The business was unwrapped almost 30 years ago in Cayucos’ Way Station building, and purchased in 2008 by Jim and Pam Christiansen. Both retirees from the Fresno area, their idea was “to turn this into a family business,” said daughter Bonnie Christiansen.

The family oversaw the move to the Candy Counter’s current location at the foot of the pier three years ago, gutting a former bait-and-tackle shop on Cayucos Drive.

The remodel not only gave the interior a bright new look with a hint of vintage ambiance, but also allowed the Christiansens to add a walk-up window where patrons can order items such as hot chocolate, Illy espresso drinks, fruit smoothies, sodas, Doc Burnstein’s ice cream and gelato.

Next summer, the Christensens hope to add Hawaiian shaved ice to the lineup as well.

The ice cream was just one of several items added to the Candy Counter’s offerings after the expansion (big, gooey SLO Baked cinnamon rolls were another), Christiansen said.

“We’re the only place around where you can get Cayucos Candy Crunch ice cream,” she said. “We invented the flavor ourselves, and Doc Burnstein’s makes it just for us.”

That flavor — chocolate ice cream with caramel, fudge, pralines and chocolate chips — is just one of the dozen or so available in cones and bowls, sundaes and shakes, malts and freezes.

Of course, the big draw of the business is candy … lots of it!

Chocolate is certainly well represented, with chocolate-covered raisins, malt balls and mocha beans, plus a huge case of treats ranging from truffles to fudge. There isn’t room to actually make the chocolate candies on site, but “we source from the very best suppliers,” said Christiansen, “and have really built up great relationships with them.”

Other treats at the Cayucos Candy Counter include 26 different flavors of imported licorice, 30-plus flavors of saltwater taffy, 50-plus flavors of Jelly Bellys and seemingly all things gummy. There are also several kinds of sugar-free, nut-free and gluten-free choices as well.

Candy’s certainly not just for kids, and adults can indulge their sweet tooth (and their inner child) with all the retro candies available at the Candy Counter. Take a trip down memory land with Mary Janes, Pop Rocks, Smarties, Atomic Fireballs, Dubble Bubble, SweeTarts and perennially popular Pez dispensers.

The Christiansen family is also trying to sweeten the fate of one local landmark.

The iconic and much beloved Cayucos Pier is badly in need of repair, the sooner the better given the upcoming winter storm season.

To help raise funds for the effort, the Cayucos Candy Counter is donating 10 percent of its Saturday sales “every week, for as long as it takes” to the Cayucos Pier Project.

“It’s a nice way that we felt we could help the restoration project,” said Christiansen, “and the community feels that they’re able to help out too.”

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

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