One of the first downtown Napa candy stores to open in the late 1800s was J.J Sweet’s Gay Nineties Candy Store. One of his main competitors, Jasper Partrick, opened his first store in 1896 using the techniques and recipes he learned from a traveling salesman-candy-maker.
As a means to promote his business, Partrick would pull taffy from an outdoor stand he had set up in front of his store. It was a successful strategy and Partrick’s enterprise became the local candy store. When his sons, Elmer and Earl, were old enough, Jasper taught them the confectionery arts which they quickly mastered.
At about that same time, Jasper’s attentions turned to local politics. To pursue those aspirations, Jasper closed the candy store. Elmer would eventually move to Walla Walla, Wash. where he would open a candy store. Earl would become a full-time farmer at his Redwood Road farm. Although, having all of the candy-making equipment stored at his farm, Earl would treat family and friends to his confections on special occasions and especially at Christmas-time.
About 20 years later, in 1930, Elmer and Earl decided to form a confectionery business partnership. After a nation-wide search, they decided the best place to establish their manufacturing plant was in Vallejo.
That partnership lasted for only two years. In 1932 Elmer sold his shares of the business to Earl as he wanted to open a candy store in Palo Alto. Fortunately for Earl, his son, Roy, had become an accomplished candy-maker. Having graduated from Napa High School in 1930, Roy was working full-time at the Vallejo factory. Earl, being pleased with Roy’s skills and abilities, made his son a full partner in 1936.
Together they created a highly successful business until the early 1940s. The commencement of World War II brought commodity rationing. Ingredients, such as sugar, butter, chocolate and nuts, were becoming increasingly difficult to procure. Also, Roy left to serve his country in the Air Force. As a result of all of these challenges, Earl decided to close the candy manufacturing plant and return to full-time farming.
With the end of the war, Roy Partrick returned home to Napa as commodities such as sugar were becoming easier to procure. So, in 1946, Roy and Earl dusted off their candy-making equipment stored at the Redwood Road ranch. They then set up a wholesale confection factory right there on Earl’s ranch. With minimal effort they were readily received by regional retailers. Those outlets for their delicacies were in San Francisco, Vallejo, Fairfield and Napa.
A couple of years later, 1948, the Partricks decided to open their own retail candy store. Located on Main Street in Napa, Partrick’s was wholeheartedly embraced by local confection lovers from its first day of business. One delight of the store was the visible kitchen area. The customers could watch the Partricks as they made their candies.
With the business a success, Earl and his wife Gertrude retired from commercial candy-making in 1953. Although fully confident in Roy’s abilities as a candy-maker and businessman, Gertrude continued to contribute her special expertise to the family business for many more years. She was well-known for her tasteful arrangements of homegrown flowers. Those bouquets enhanced the Partrick’s chocolates and other confections displayed in the store’s windows. Her Easter-time designs were especially memorable with sprays of springtime blossoms contrasting 2-foot tall dark chocolate bunnies and molded peek-a-boo sugar eggs. The blended scents of the confections and blossoms were also quite appealing.
In 1964 Roy moved his Partrick’s candy store from Main to First Street. The building, now occupied by Annette’s, was custom built for Roy by Hugo Zeller and designed specifically to be a candy store. Roy continued the family legacy of candy-making until his retirement in 1972, and the business continued for about two more decades under various ownerships. Then in 1991, Partrick’s became Annette’s Candy Store.
In the early 1900s, Napa had another favorite sweet shop, Bryant’s Candy Store and Fountain at 1134 First St. Edward and Emma Bryant opened their establishment to rave reviews on June 14, 1928.
The store’s interior was beautifully appointed with fine woods, marble and harlequin flooring. Just sitting at the fountain bar was probably a treat with its mahogany woodwork, pink Tennessee marble top trimmed with Verdi marble. The booths and table sets were also crafted from mahogany.
Following Edward’s death in the mid 1940s, Emma was considering the possibility of selling their business. At about the same time, Mrs. and Mr. Verne Burrell were visiting her sister, Dorothy Lockner, in Napa. Originally from Oregon, the Burrells were looking for a way to make a living if they moved to Napa. The Burrells heard of Emma Bryant’s desire to sell the candy store. In August 1947 Bryant’s became Burrell’s.
According to local newspapers, Mrs. Burrell, aka Mrs. B., was a professional chef and baker who believed in quality first. With Mrs. B’s culinary background, the Burrells expanded the menu to include more substantial foods while maintaining the existing assortment of candies and fountain items. Some of those new items became legendary, including Mrs. B’s meatloaf, gumbo soup, potato salad, pastries and cookies. As for Mr. Burrell, he was also well known for his incredible fountain wizardry. Using 10 flavorings and syrups, he created an array of malts, sodas and milkshakes that quenched thirsts and satisfied cravings.
For 16 years, Burrell’s offered Napa County residents and visitors delicious treats for any taste preference. Also, its booths and friendly atmosphere made it the perfect hang-out for the local youth until it closed in early 1960. The Register reported its closure in an article titled “Famed Napa Confectionery Passes from Scene.”