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Carmazzi’s new owner keeps traditions, expands business

Urbana landmark will keep candy but add lunch items.

The landmark Carmazzi’s Deli and Candy store in downtown Urbana has changed owners, but the candy and name will remain.

“I decided to keep it in his name and honor. It’s just much as part of Urbana as the Simon Kenton statue in the center,” new owner Jeffrey Donay said.

Donay, a chiropractor in Urbana, plans to add some new features. He bought the more than 200-year-old building from John Carmazzi, who has run the candy shop since 1952.

Carmazzi’s parents were Italian immigrants who came through Ellis Island. They bought the building from John’s great uncle in 1931, who started Bianchi’s Fruit store in 1893.

The Carmazzis continued to carry the fruit baskets but made their niche selling candy and staying open all-year long.

“Most small businesses have gone by the wayside. We used to carry everything. Big box stores have taken over selling a lot of groceries,” Carmazzi said. “Candy! Thank God, at least we had a niche there. People like to shop for that.”

There was retirement party for Carmazzi at the store in late February. He said he was tired after standing for three hours.

He said he met the great-grandchildren of a woman who he served when she was a little girl.

Carmazzi said he did not want to sell the business, but at 80 years old, it was time.

He said he found the right buyer and was scared what could have happened to the store had something happened to him or his wife.

He said he still plans to make the block-and-a-half walk from his house to the store to pick up his favorite candy bars; Skybar, Necco Wafers and Chuckles.

Donay plans to keep the tradition of the store’s staples, but he wants to make some additions under the direction of the new manager Nanette Hagan.

The store plans to add lunch items, pre-made salads and sandwiches for downtown workers who want to avoid “fast-food lane,” Donay said.

In addition to fruit baskets, Donay would like to sell candy baskets and possibly even pinatas at the store.

He has talked to Young’s Ice Cream, another local favorite, and hopes to sell its ice cream in the store.

Donay is planning a open house in one or two months once the new items are in the store, he said.

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