DOWAGIAC – A milestone of a century in the making took place in downtown Dowagiac on Saturday afternoon.
People from Dowagiac and beyond gathered downtown for Caruso’s Candy & Soda Shop 100th Anniversary Party Saturday from 3-7 p.m. as well as at Beckwith Park and on Beeson Street.
The celebration included a performance by local band Over the Top, as well as an auction of antique Caruso items such as ice cream storage containers, bottles and more. Caruso guests experienced the store’s renovations, which included new floors, new lights, new fans, new tables, new bar chairs, updated facade and a few other changes minor structural.
“It’s very humiliating,” Caruso owner Julie Johnson said. “I am so grateful. The turnout for all of this is absolutely amazing, bigger than I expected and anticipated. It just shows how supportive our community is. I have family who traveled from all over the country to come here to participate in this.
Antonio and Amelia Caruso, who emigrated from Italy as children, opened Caruso’s on September 22, 1922. The building was built in 1899 and once housed a Chicago Candy Company location.
The Carusos spent the next decades instilling the tradition of a family business in their children and grandchildren.
Johnson is proud to see her family business reach a historic milestone and hopes that Caruso’s will continue to serve the community for another 100 years.
“(They would) be proud and happy that it’s still going on a hundred years later and it’s been in the family all this time,” Johnson said. “It’s amazing that it has survived all these years as a small business in a small town”, “Our community is just amazing, and our community goes beyond Dowagiac, especially with all the lakes we have here. We have many families who have been here for many generations in their lakeside homes in the Chicagoland area. It’s just amazing.