The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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October 25, 2012

VIDEO: Minerva’s grand opening attracts residents with cherished memories

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Karla Solomon knows it sounds bizarre, but she acknowledges still owning a candy cane made at Minerva Candy Co. just before it closed about five years ago.

“It’s in my refrigerator,” said Solomon, 65, who showed up for lunch Thursday at Minerva’s grand reopening. “I guard it. It’s just so I can have a piece of that past. I grew up in the Minerva. It’s a special, special place.”

Solomon wasn’t alone: A steady stream of Webb City area residents who came through the doors Thursday, starting with coffee at 7 a.m. and continuing through the lunch hour, recalled vivid childhood memories of time spent in the historic downtown store.

“I came to the bakery every morning before school to get a cream horn,” said Karen Boyd, 55, in reference to the space attached to the candy store that has been converted to a deli. “I ate it on my way to school — boy, what a sugar rush.”

Boyd has been among numerous residents who have been stopping by Minerva regularly in the past year to watch the renovation progress.

Last year, Webb City residents Tom and Mary Hamsher purchased the abandoned store from Duke Mallos, whose family had owned it since 1921.

For 15 months, they worked on renovating it from top to bottom, including two loft apartments above the candy store that in recent weeks have been rented. In addition to converting the former bakery to a deli, they outfitted the candy store with a coffee bar and homemade ice cream bar. In November, they will begin making the iconic hard candy.

Among the highlights of the deli side of the store is a player piano built in 1903. The Hamshers purchased it, as well as about 100 rolls of music, at an auction in Ohio and had it refurbished. Tom Hamsher was accommodating when he was asked by patrons to demonstrate it during the lunch hour.

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