It’s been 44 years since Patricia and Patrick Alesse first opened their C Shop in Birch Bay, and the candy, ice cream and pizza store remains a favorite summer destination among Birch Bay locals and visitors. Arrive on a hot summer evening and you’ll see bikes parked haphazardly outside, families trooping in after their barbeque dinner and young couples out on their first dates, hand-in-hand. If Birch Bay has a center, this is it: the bright yellow, cheerful structure on the corner of Alderson road and Birch Bay drive, its insides packed full of tasty treats and warm smiles. The C Shop is just a feel-good, happy place to hang out.
In recent years the Alesse’s son Keith and his wife Saara Kuure have joined Pat and Pat as co-owners and the four partners are happily working side by side, serving customers and creating new chocolate fantasies like a milk chocolate peanut butter cup.
“My parents don’t want to leave and we couldn’t do this without them,” Keith admitted.
Inside the ice cream bar patrons crowded in, patiently waiting their turn to pick from one of the 20 ice cream flavors. No-one minds waiting because watching the C Shop in action is part of the experience. Directly outside there’s a large window into the kitchen so customers can watch carmel corn being stirred in a massive vat and peanut brittle being rolled onto the countertop, cut and free tasters offered around.
The array of candy is quite incredible. The first items to disappear are the salt and pepper carmel, the almond butter toffee, the peanut butter yumms, the carmelcorn and Keith’s C-foam. There are chocolates molded into a wide variety of shapes, fudge samples on the counter and snow cones to take the edge off those muggy, burning hot days.
But don’t get too distracted by the candy. Just beyond the kitchen there’s another side to the C Shop and you’d be remiss not to try it. Here the Alesses offer 12 and 16-inch pizzas, baked in a 1916 Edison Electric deck oven, that will get your mouth watering. My favorites are the Mediterranean, with sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach and feta, and the White Rock, with white garlic sauce, artichoke hearts and gorgonzola. The newest pizza addition for this season is the Kickerville Rooster, whose toppings include sriracha, pineapple, bacon, kalamatas, pepperoncini and roasted garlic. “It’s sweet, hot and trendy,” says Keith, describing how it was made purely by chance. A last-minute food request had come in from a friend, prompting he and Saara to assemble a pizza based purely on what they had left-over. It was such a hit it became an immediate addition to the menu.
Pizzas range in price from $11.75 up to $28.75 with gluten free crust options available. This year there’s also a gluten-free ice cream cone available, one Keith swears is even better than the regular cones. Other food options available in the restaurant include cold deli sandwiches, grilled sandwiches, fresh loaves of bread, cinnamon buns and a selection of sundaes, milkshakes and floats. Come in on your birthday and you’ll get free jelly beans totaling your age. Newlyweds and wedding anniversary celebrants also get a free peanut butter yumm bar to share.
The day I met Keith in late May, he’d worked the entire night before making chocolate. Nevertheless, he was still very much in love with the business and everything it represents. “We often hear customers say how they came to the C Shop when they were a kid, and now they’re bringing their own kids,” he reflected. “Our candy shop has been a positive experience in their lives, something they’ve looked forward to and a connecting point for people of all ages. Ours is a business that people feel defines the area and we’re proud that part of what summer in Birch Bay means is a visit to the C Shop.”
If you go
- 4825 Alderson Road in Birch Bay
- (360) 371-2070