Diamond's Candy Shoppe. A fixture since long before I was born, Diamond's was a place where you could get the best chocolates anywhere, in a dizzying array of shapes - or my favorite, the chunk chocolate, broken into thumb-sized pieces with sharp cleavage planes everywhere.
Diamond's used to be open all the time, or so it seemed; I never had a problem stopping in to pick up some chocolates for my friends any time of the year. But about four years ago the store began closing temporarily at some times of the year. At first it was closed during the Summer. Then it was only open for a few weeks before Christmas and Easter, and maybe Valentine's Day, too. Then it wasn't open at all.
And then it closed. Diamond's Candy Shoppe closed a year or so ago. It had been mostly closed for some time, but when they sold off the chocolate-making equipment, the copper kettles and other such things, everyone knew it was over. Diamond's was gone for good.
Except it wasn't.
Just before last Christmas I was driving by the store with a friend who was in town for a visit. On a whim I drove him past the chocolate store, and there was the proprietor, Mr. Panagakos - unfortunately, locking up and leaving. I tried again early on Christmas Eve, and the old neon OPEN sign in the window was lit up. At least, it was lit up when I pulled up and parked, but as I got out of the car I saw Mr. Panagakos locking up again. Fortunately, this time he saw me, and he quickly reopened and waved me in. I came in, pulled out all the money in my wallet, and asked him to give me however much chocolate that would buy.
A week or so ago a sign appeared in the window of the old candy store informing interested parties that Mr. Panagakos would be taking orders for Easter candy. Even better: he is keeping the store open for a few hours each day - 9:00 to 2:00 - up until Easter. He has a few of his old display cabinets back up, filled with chocolate bunnies and ducks and race cars and a wide variety of Easter Eggs.
I stopped by today, pulled out a $50 bill I had been saving since Christmas, and used it to buy as much chocolate as I could.
Diamond's Candy Shoppe will be open, I think, for a few more days, or until Mr. Panagakos runs out of candy. I don't know when - or if - he will be opening again. If you want to grab a taste of this legendary chocolate, the time is now. Call ahead to the number shown above if you want to place a special order. This may be your last chance!
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