SPRING HILL — Jennifer Trozzo made an observation when she and her family moved here from Pittsburgh several years ago.
"Nice shopping," she said, "but no bakeries, no candy shops."
Trozzo filled that void with the opening last month of Weeki Wachee Candy Co., which also is a bakery and café.
From soups, salads and sandwiches through sips and sweets, the little shop in Kass Circle packs all the gustatory niceties into one 20-seat eatery and take-away. The menu serves up Trozzo’s kitchen-wide creativity and supports her favorite, but more limited customer niche — chocolates.
"Candy is bigger October through Easter. Summer, not so big," said Trozzo’s husband, Bill Trozzo, an avid chocolatier assistant. The café added paninis, wraps, salads and soups, soft-serve ice cream, and specialty teas and coffees, which are in demand regardless of the season.
When they arrived in Hernando County, Jennifer Trozzo said the family missed the fine chocolates of a particular Pittsburgh confectionery, so she began concocting her own. Chocolate coatings range through bitter-sweet, grainy-smooth, melted-solidified.
Chocolate centers posed another set of trials. She called in family and friends for taste tests, always comparing them to the pre-eminent Steel City sweets. Her own chocolates now exceed the bar, Trozzo believes.
Chocoholics are gobbling up Trozzo’s delicate truffles, chocolate barks, peanut butter creams, soft caramels and more. Many pieces are daintily decorated with colorful, patterns usually seen only in premier chocolate emporiums. Most candies cost 65 cents each.
Bakery goods, starting at 99 cents, have taken off, with death-by-chocolate lava cake, salted caramel cake and whoopee pies leading customer favorites. And the white chocolate raspberry scones?
"We sold out the first day we made them," said baker Kirstin Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick, 25, is a local resident and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. She also introduced a number of gluten-free cookies.
Trozzo whirls up salad and sandwich dressings such as chipotle mayo and strawberry-poppy seed.
Her Caesar dresses the No. 1 customer sandwich favorite, chicken Caesar wrap. Sandwiches range from $5 to $8.
"We try to keep a whole meal under $10," Trozzo said.
The owner is surprised at the popularity of coffees, including espresso, latte, cappuccino and cold brew as well as Tebella teas of Tampa.
"There are not many places around here that do those," she said. The beverage demand feeds baked goods sales and has prompted the addition of breakfast sandwiches to the menu.
Michelle Miller, Hernando County planner, is among those pleased about the candy company opening. She is overseeing the Kass Circle redevelopment, where up to a half-dozen new independent retailers have joined the neighborhood since last fall.
"There’s a lot of engagement by the business community," Miller said. "I wonder if that’s not infectious. Showcasing these new businesses could attract more."
The Trozzos said their menu augments, rather than competes with, other dining and snacking options near Kass Circle. They would like to add call-in ordering for customers, and perhaps delivery.
"We’re hoping to grow," Bill Trozzo said. "We think Spring Hill could support two stores."
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]