Caruso’s celebrates 100 years

Published 11:42 am Sunday, June 19, 2022

DOWAGIAC — A milestone a century in the making unfolded in downtown Dowagiac Saturday afternoon.

People from Dowagiac and beyond gathered downtown for Caruso’s Candy & Soda Shop’s 100th anniversary party Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The celebration took place inside the store at 130 S. Front St., Venue 132 next door at 132 S. Front St. as well as at Beckwith Park and on Beeson Street.  

The celebration included a performance by local band Over the Top, as well as an auction of antique Caruso’s items such as ice cream storage containers, bottles and more. Caruso’s guests experienced the shop’s renovations, which included new floors, new lights, new fans, new tables, new bar chairs, a façade update and some other minor structural changes. 

“It’s very humbling,” said Caruso’s owner Julie Johnson. “I’m just so very grateful. The turnout for all this is just absolutely amazing, bigger than what I expected and anticipated. It just goes to show what our community support is. I have family that traveled from all over the country to come here to participate in this.”

Antonio and Amelia Caruso, who migrated from Italy as children, opened Caruso’s on Sept. 22, 1922. The building was built in 1899 and formerly housed a Chicago Candy Company location.

The Carusos spent the next few decades instilling the tradition of a family-owned-and-operated business into their children and grandchildren.

Johnson is proud to see her family business reach a storied milestone and hopes Caruso’s continues to serve the community for another 100 years.

“(They would be) proud and happy that this is still going a hundred years later and that it has stayed in the family this whole time,” Johnson said. “It is extraordinary that it has survived all these years as a small business in a small town,” “Our community is just incredible, and our community goes beyond Dowagiac, especially with all the lakes that we have here. We have lots of families that have come here for many generations to their lake homes in the Chicagoland area. It’s just amazing.”