Burke Candy Store a Real Treat

by Kevin Flaherty You don’t need a golden ticket from a Willy Wonka candy bar to gain entry to Riverwest’s very own chocolate factory. Tucked between a metalworking shop and Door County Potato Chips is Burke Candy & Ingredients, Inc., a retail candy store and candy ingredient manufacturer. When you open the door to the shop, you are immediately surrounded by the smell of chocolate. To the right you can see the candy-making part of the business and to the left is the retail store. Inside the store, shelves are packed with chocolate-covered pretzels, English and white chocolate toffee, fudge, pecan and cashew turtles, and truffles. The company’s owners, Tim and Julia Burke, both have candy-making in their blood. Burke Candy was founded in 1929 by Tim’s grandfather in downtown Chicago. Julia’s grandmother — Grandmother Reilly — is the inspiration for their homemade fudge and toffee recipes. They believe in bringing enthusiasm and creativity to their work. “I believe imagination is the key to success,” says Julia. Visitors should know that the Burkes are very friendly people. In fact, one gets the impression the couple opened the retail part of their business in part so they could interact with the public more than they could with the ingredient manufacturing business. The couple, who have been married 18 years, bought the candy ingredient division of the Burke Chocolate Company in 1996. After looking all over the Milwaukee area (Julia is a native Milwaukeean) to locate their operation, they chose Riverwest. They liked the neighborhood’s proximity to Capitol Drive and Shorewood, and as Tim said, because “we like the fact it’s an up-and-coming neighborhood.” The store has benefited from being only a short walk from the Capitol Drive Jewel store. The Burkes lease approximately 6,000 square feet from Door County Potato Chips. The bulk of the company’s leased space is devoted to the manufacture of candy ingredients. This area is dedicated to the making of nougat kreme, candy centers for candy retailers, caramel, and other bulk ingredients. The manufacturing division accounts for 85% of the company’s sales. Burke Candy is the only kosher candy maker in Milwaukee. The company will hand-make and hand-pack assorted sweets for corporate events, weddings, bah mitzvahs and other special events. Burke Candy & Ingredients is located at 3840 N. Fratney Street and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The retail store also opens on Saturdays near holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. You may contact the company at (414) 964-7327 or on the Internet at
by Kevin Flaherty