Q&A with owners of Windy City Sweets

Company: Windy city sweets

Address: 3308 N. Broadway, Chicago

Telephone: (773) 477-6100

Website: windycitysweets.com

Industry: Confectioner of chocolate, candy, fudge, ice cream, gift items

Number of employees: 15

• An interview with owners John Manchester and Jill Manchester:

Question: Describe your company.

Walking through the doors of 3308 N. Broadway is like stepping back in time. Everyone is greeted with a friendly hello and if you are a regular it is as if you have just strolled onto the set of the TV show “Cheers”, “where everyone knows your name” and the friendly staff addresses you accordingly. The store feels nostalgic. It reminds customers of a simpler, less hectic and friendlier time.

Since 1983, Windy City Sweets has specialized in handmade chocolates, homemade fudge, international licorice and 1,200 different candies that will satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Our candy store is a favorite destination for our loyal Chicago customers and was just recognized by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce as having the best customer service.

But that’s not all the accolades Windy City Sweets has; it was named one of America’s two favorite candy stores in a USA Today contest and named one of the best ice cream stores in the U.S. by Cosmopolitan Magazine. In fact, just last month… Windy City Sweets was one of 57 companies worldwide selected for the “Everyone Wins” gift bag for the Oscar nominees.

Q: Do you plan to hire additional staff or make significant capital investments in your business in the coming year?

We hire many local people of all ages and with different backgrounds. We are seeing a large increase in local, national and international visitors. To meet this demand, we will increase our staff for the summer visitor and ice cream season. We’ve seen a significant increase in traffic thanks to the recent partnership with the Oscar nominees “Everyone Wins” gift program. We were one of 57 companies worldwide approved to be part of Hollywood’s biggest night.

Q: What is the hottest trend in your industry?

Personalization Everyone wants something special, made just for them. At Windy City Sweets we offer unique chocolate creations for private and business customers. We are constantly innovating and offering new items in our store. Two new fan-favorite items are Windy City Stuffs. Open an Oreo, place a Reese’s peanut butter cup inside, then dip it in one of our signature chocolates from Windy City Sweets. The other new innovation is an Oreo covered in caramel and Windy City Sweets chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt. For companies, we work with them to develop a bespoke collection of chocolates and incorporate their company name or logo to make it unique.

Q: What is your company doing to reduce the impacts of climate change?

We do a lot of recycling. We reuse boxes, wrapping paper and bubble wrap in our shipping. Many of our customers receive their candies packaged in a Jelly Belly Box. Larger boxes are used to deliver larger commercial orders. Some of our products are delivered in large plastic bags. We use the bags to throw away waste.

We donate damaged items, such as pretzels (along with food gloves and takeout bags), to Dignity Diner.

Q: Is your company minority-owned? Owned by a woman? If so, what are the challenges of being a minority- or woman-owned business?

Windy City Sweets is 50% female-owned, our general manager is a woman, and two-thirds of our staff are women.

Q: What is your company doing in DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion)?

As a resident of the diverse Lakeview neighborhood, we embrace DE&I – from our hiring practices to our philanthropic activities and our overall business philosophy. Everyone loves candy and everyone loves candy.

Q: Does your company donate time or money to philanthropic causes? If so, what causes?

Windy City Sweets wants to make the world “sweeter” and we generously share our time, talent, energy and our delicious products with others. One of our most beautiful memories is with Make A Wish Foundation. A young boy had a desire to go to a Cubs game and Windy City Sweets turned out to be the icing on the cake. Our young friend stopped by after the game and was amazed at the size of the five-scoop sundae he enjoyed, along with all the candy he wanted to take home. We donated gift baskets to Dignity Diners, donated ice cream and treats to Center on Halsted Street, which serves the LBGTQ community, and partnered with The Power Project, whose mission is to prevent sexual assault, dating violence and sex trafficking among youth . The Power Project was in store to educate people in the area and we donated a portion of our sales to their great cause.

Our generosity extends beyond people. In our most recognized and absolutely fun philanthropy, Windy City Sweets has created The Ice Cream Challenge Contest with local radio hosts. Our goal was to raise awareness and money for The Anti-Cruelty Society. The annual promotion runs all summer long, with local radio personalities selecting their favorite ice cream and campaigning throughout the summer to boost sales. The winner of the ice challenge will get bragging rights for a year, but the big winner is the Anti-Cruelty Society, which will receive a sizeable donation.

Q: Is your company doing anything else to make your community better?

We share our loveliness with local schools, LGBTQ organizations and religious organizations, along with national organizations.

Q: What do you do to make your company a good place to work for your employees?

We support DEI in our hiring practices, hire local community members from all age groups, and create a welcoming, fun work environment in which our employees can thrive.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

“Windy City Sweets – where life is a little sweeter!”

Q: What’s an interesting fact about your company that most people might not know?

100% of our delicious fudge and over 50% of our chocolates are made right here in the store at Windy City Sweets.

Our multigenerational Manchester Olde English Toffee is a family recipe passed down from John’s great-grandmother.

John Manchester, co-owner of Windy City Sweets in Chicago.
Courtesy of Windy City Sweets

A selection of the sweets available at Windy City Sweets in Chicago.
Courtesy of Windy City Sweets

Gift boxes and bags of chocolates and other treats sold at Windy City Sweets in Chicago.
Courtesy of Windy City Sweets

Windy City Sweets, located at 3308 N. Broadway in Chicago, is owned by John and Jill Manchester.
Courtesy of Windy City Sweets