With a new retail location on Walton Avenue, Ruth Hunt Candies readies for Valentine’s Day
“We buy 400 cases of strawberries, almost a semi-truck full. We have a large cooler that we fill from floor to ceiling, plus a couple of side coolers. Every single square inch is filled with strawberries, and we do nothing but dip strawberries for three days – all day long, for three days.”
This is how Ruth Hunt Candies owner Larry Kezele and the folks at Ruth Hunt Candies jump into the Valentine’s Day rush: dipping 22,000 strawberries into chocolate for their famous Long Stem Strawberries.
“It’s harder, in some ways, than Christmas. Christmas, you know, people show up and you’re busy from Thanksgiving on. Some people give early gifts; some people give late gifts. You build up to the really busy days before Christmas. Still, the busiest day of the year is always right on Valentine’s Day. That’s when everybody gets the gift,” Kezele continued.
Ruth Hunt Candies is a long-established name in Lexington, as well as in Mt. Sterling where their factory is located. You can tour the factory and see the large copper kettles and marble slabs that Ruth Hunt herself used in her business that started 92 years ago this year.
And now, Kezele has brought Ruth Hunt Candies back to downtown Lexington with a new store on Walton Avenue.
“Years and years ago, Ruth Hunt herself had a store on the corner of Main and Limestone. Some time later, we had a store in Chevy Chase. It was a very small space there that did quite well, but the building owners decided to tear that whole building down and rebuild. I always wanted to get back to downtown Lexington, but downtown wasn’t nearly as resurgent as it is now,” Kezele said. “We went to Woodhill for 10 years, but I am a firm believer in owning our own building. When the sign went up for this building I called immediately. We got it in November. We flat-out ran to get things going in time for Christmas, which is our absolute make-or-break season.”
Getting a Ruth Hunt store in on Walton Avenue is like a plan come full circle for Kezele, who has wanted to own a building in downtown Lexington for a long time.
“When we moved in at Woodhill, this building was for sale and I looked at it. At the time it was just out of our reach. Sonitrol bought the building and renovated it. Now, 10 years later, it has all new electric, all new plumbing, a new roof. There is plenty of parking. It worked out really well. And we are so excited to be back in downtown Lexington and involved in the things going on downtown,” he said.