WESTFIELD, NJ — Ralph Bencivenga, the owner of Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe, had just heard the news Tuesday morning: Brummer’s Homemade Chocolate’s would be closing up shop for the last time.
Bencivenga had been at Bovella’s since 1985 and partnered with Brummer’s on sweet ventures over the years — edible ones that Bencivenga offered to his customers. But it was the thought of no longer having owner George Brummer on the block that brought Bencivenga sorrow.
“It’s sad day for me. I’ve known him for such a long time,” Bencivenga said. “And being a business owner, it’s sad to see places like that go out because who knows if there’s going to be another one like that. He’s always hands-on and dedicated.”
Brummer’s had posted to Facebook that after 31 years in Westfield, the shop would be closing and Brummer would be retiring. He had worked in the candy making business for 47 years, the store said. And while in Westfield for just over three decades, the chocolate maker has been in New Jersey for 116 years.
Brummer’s announcement said it would be open this week only, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A sign on the door advertised a “retirement sale” and offered all items for half price.
Before coming to Westfield, Brummer’s grandfather had established the business in Jersey City starting in 1904, says the shop’s website.
“George has created three-foot chocolate bunnies and three-foot Santas,” the site says. “He even recreated a Halloween tombstone, a baby grand piano, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge in chocolate.” Efforts to reach the candy maker on Tuesday were not successful.
A profile of the business published by Downtown Westfield Corporation in 2017 describes narrow aisles and shelves packed with goodies including old-time favorites such as Mary Janes, buttons, jaw breakers and Pez.
Brummer’s isn’t just a gem for residents of Westfield. It has become a regional draw.
When they learned of its anticipated closure, Kimberly and Mark Andino, along with their nearly 1-year-old daughter, made the trip to Westfield from Somerset Tuesday to visit the candy shop.
The family arrived to find a TV news van stationed in front of the shop, which was closed. “Maybe we’ll come back before next week,” said Mark Andino, who expressed a fondness for Brummer’s chocolate-covered pretzels.
Peter Rentoulis, the owner of Vicki’s Diner, located across the street, has been a customer of Brummer’s for 21 years. It’s the man that he’ll miss more than the chocolate.
“You get used to people for a long time,” Rentoulis said. “You become friends. You become like family, and then they leave and a small part of you goes with them.”
Email Matt Kadosh at email@example.com | Twitter: @MattKadosh