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Saturday was a busy day at Sweet Pete's, which hosted 10 children's parties in addition to regular customers.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 12, 201512:00 PM EST

Marcus Lemonis agrees to buy two Downtown buildings to help ease space crunch for Sweet Pete's

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by: Marilyn Young

It didn’t take long for the owners of Sweet Pete’s to know they were in a tight spot, but in a good way.

Co-owner Allison Behringer said the candy retailer was doubling revenue projections almost immediately after opening in December.

By the time first-quarter results came in, it became clear the business had outgrown the building at 400 N. Hogan St., a space it shares with The Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktails restaurant.

“We are far exceeding what we thought we could do,” Behringer said Saturday.

They needed more space for candy- making classes, private events and retail sales. The extra space also would keep the two businesses from being “so on top of each other.”

That’s where having a partner like Marcus Lemonis comes in handy.

The CEO of Camping World and star of CNBC’s “The Profit” has verbal agreements to buy the buildings at 424 and 502 N. Hogan St. to accommodate the growing business.

He also plans to purchase the parking lot between Sweet Pete’s and 424 N. Hogan St. and will fund the renovations, according to a news release.

The sales prices will become public when the deals are completed. Duval County Property Appraiser records show the 2015 in-progress assessed values are $531,284 for 424 N. Hogan and $583,508 for 502 N. Hogan St.

Lemonis became partners with Behringer and her husband, Pete, as part of “The Profit,” a reality show where he works with small businesses.

Before Lemonis got involved, Sweet Pete’s was struggling, operating at a $17,000 loss despite having $400,000 in sales, according to an episode of the show.

Everything turned around once he bought out the Behringers’ previous partner.

Lemonis said on the show he bought the old Seminole Club for $500,000 and spent $2.3 million renovating the historic building across from City Hall.

Though Sweet Pete’s and Candy Apple are not financially tied together, Behringer said they treat the relationship as a partnership.

“We don’t want customers to hear, ‘That’s the restaurant, talk to them’ or ‘talk to Sweet Pete’s,” she said.

Candy Apple will benefit from the additional parking. Behringer said the second floor in the three-story building at 424 N. Hogan St. has large windows, making it an ideal space for many of the events, such as weddings and parties, hosted by Candy Apple.

Sweet Pete’s hosts far more events than it anticipated at this point. On Saturday, there were 10 children’s parties, Behinger said.

“What’s been most shocking is Saturday is our busiest day and we thought it would be our slowest,” Behringer said.

Becoming partners with Lemonis has been phenomenal, she said, and not just because of the financial investment he’s made.

“He’s just a very inspiring partner,” Behringer said, and one who encourages them to collaborate, execute ideas and be creative.

The result has been staggering, she said, for she and her husband and their customers.

“It’s been really neat for us to see the reaction of so many customers that come through, especially during One Spark, that are shocked at the number of families that come Downtown,” she said.

[email protected]

@editormarilyn

(904) 356-2466

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