Mexican-style candy shop opens next to popular Tucson taco stand

Sweets shop is latest venture of couple who run the Karamelo King
2013-04-03T00:00:00Z Mexican-style candy shop opens next to popular Tucson taco standAngela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Karamelo King, a popular taco stand on East Grant Road and Dodge Boulevard, has expanded its business to include a Mexican candy store in the building next door.

Cristina Gastelum, who co-owns the business with her husband, Rafael, said they've had the taco stand for 13 years, including eight at its current location.

She said they originally planned to open a restaurant in the building, but when licensing didn't work out, they decided to keep the taco stand and open the candy store.

It seemed like a good idea since there were no stores of its kind in the area.

"They are all on the south side," she said. "To some people this is so new because they've never seen a store like this or have never been on the south side."

South-side candy stores include Funland, 5125 S. 12th Ave., and Dulceria Mis 3 Cochitas, 5358 S. 12th Ave.

Tamarind and chili-covered candies, milk candy, caramel wafers and more are available individually behind the counter or in bags stacked on shelves at Karamelo King.

"Little kids want a whole bag, and their moms say no," said the Gastelums' daughter, Christie, age 11. "So they get a little piece instead."

Individual pieces of candy range in price from 10 cents to $1.50.

The most popular sellers in the store, though, are the piñatas. The Gastelums order 32 of them each month.

Brightly colored piñatas hang from the ceiling and sit on the floor against the walls. Angry Birds, Spider-Man, Mickey Mouse and even Justin Bieber are among the many the store has in stock.

Piñatas sell fast on Fridays and Saturdays when people are picking up last-minute items for parties.

The girls in the family work together to make custom centerpieces and cake decorations as well. They are currently working on Angry Birds centerpieces.

The family has noticed an increase in candy shop customers month-over-month since opening in mid-January, Cristina Gastelum said.

People who know the taco stand go into the store, as do kids when they get out of nearby schools.

"We have a lot of taco stand customers who are university students," Cristina Gastelum said. "We even have a UA football helmet and a Wilbur piñata."

If You Go

• Karamelo King Candy Shop is at 3749 E. Grant Road. Candy shop hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

• Taco stand hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Thursdays and 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

• Contact: 358-5771.

"To some people this is so new because they've never seen a store like this or have never been on the south side."

Cristina Gastelum, co-owner of Karamelo King Candy Shop

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.

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