Buchanan residents open J.KRU Sweets

BUCHANAN — Life got a little sweeter for the Kruegers on Oct. 15.

For Joe and Jen Krueger, owners of J.KRU Sweets, it was the date their candy kitchen became a licensed kitchen by the Michigan Department of Agriculture. Having a licensed kitchen means they can now dream a little bigger for their handmade sweets company.

Scrolling through J.KRU Sweets’ Facebook feed, where they generate most of their business, photos and videos of decadent sweets come across the screen. A video features a pumpkin shaped hot chocolate “bomb,” where the chocolate melts as hot milk is poured over it to melt the chocolate and reveal small marshmallows to sit atop the mug . Others seasonal items include chocolate dipped pretzels, buckeyes and truffles that invite hungry customers to contact the owners to place an order.

“Jen is the candy artist, and I’m kind of the mouth of the business,” Joe said.

Joe has trouble choosing a sweet he enjoys the most, but Jen knows what she likes: her buckeyes.

Joe likes to say he is the mouth of the operation, and Jen is the creator. Though, when Jen, a former school teacher, decided to stay home this fall to teach their children, she still wanted a way to work from home.

Prior to having the licensed kitchen, the Kruegers were selling the sweets direct to consumers. Each order is made to order, and Jen customizes special orders. The licensed kitchen allows them to take the next step in the business: targeting wholesalers.

“Over the years, we thought ‘do we do a storefront?’” Joe said. “It’s not what we wanted to do. We decided that we could approach folks for wholesale.”

The licensed kitchen is in the Kruegers’ basement, and Joe helped put it together minding permits and inspections along the way, during nights and weekends.

Jen had expected to return to the classroom after getting recertified to teach. After COVID-19 arrived in Michigan, she found it was more beneficial to her children’s needs that she could homeschool them instead of returning to a classroom that may go virtual again.

“When the schools closed last year and went virtual, our kids, who have always loved school and learning, no longer enjoyed school,” Jen said.

The pivot to having a licensed kitchen at home allowed her to educate her children and continue to build the sweets business.

Being a teacher herself, she and her children cannot wait to return to the normal public education environment. But for now, they are all together under one roof, including the J.KRU Sweets kitchen.

“With me having the candy kitchen and not teaching, once the kids are back to school, I’ll still be able to be a regular classroom volunteer, attend field trips, class parties and more,” Jen said.
J.KRU Sweets may be found on Facebook, and orders may be placed through Messenger or by contacting by email at JRKUSweets@gmail.com.

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