Veni’s, Niles institution, open again after owner’s death

Published 9:56 am Thursday, December 9, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Veni's Sweet Shop, an institution in the City of Niles, is open for business.
After the death of long-time owner Albert Marazita in early October, there was some doubt, even among the Marazita family, that the shop would reopen.
But despite grieving the loss of a loved one, the decision was made to reopen the shop. Al's sister-in-law, Mary Marazita, said it was hard to come back to the store, but the family knew Al would want the store to be open.
The store reopened for business Oct. 22, just two weeks after Al's death.
For Mary, who helped out in the store for 35 years since she married Al's brother, Warren, running the store is a learning experience everyday.
But Mary isn't alone in trying to get the store back to normal working order, a few former employees, who now have other jobs, help Mary during their days off to make the chocolate dipped candies while Mary attends to customers.
Heather Hoskin, 25, has worked at the store for four years and knows how to make some of the easier recipies, and came back to the store to help out Mary.
Robin Bush, 22, has also worked at the store on and off for four years and came back to help out at the store when Hoskin called her to let her know help was needed.
Bush was concerned the store would permanently close after Al's death, but when the store reopened, she knew she had to help.
With the workers in back, Mary greets customers as they come in the door and helps them. She never stops moving, even while she's talking, she can be found wrapping holiday chocolate boxes, or folding boxes so they're ready to be filled.
Although Al kept many of the recipies to himself, he did share some with Mary's daughter, Michelle Ignowski, who worked at the store for 15 years before she began teaching full time.
Ignowski has guided Mary and the girls through the workings of the store and even helps make some candies during her time off on the weekends.
Michelle makes some of the harder to make candies, such as turtles, caramels, and mint melt-aways.
But despite imparting some of his candy making knowledge on Ignowski, there were still many recipies that Al did not share with anyone or write down.
Mary said many customers have come in asking for cherry cordials, annas, and peanut brittle, and have been disappointed to find out those treats are no longer available at the store.
Before his death, Al tried to tell Mary as much as he could about the operation of the store from his hospital bed. Mary said she sat and took notes on everything he said.
Mary said the public response to the store reopening has been tremendous.
Despite all the difficulties associated with running the store, Mary feels they are pulling it off pretty well.
But even though the store is open and candes are once again being made in the store, it's hard to forget the man who made running the store his mission in life.
Hoskin said it feels good to be back at the store working, but the store just isn't the same without Al.