Chicago natives bring candy store, soul food truck to St. Cloud

·3 min read

ST. CLOUD – Pickled turkey gizzards and eggs have long been lauded as delicacies in many Stearns County bars and restaurants.

But this summer, two St. Cloud entrepreneurs are hoping to hype a different sort of pickle — Kool-Aid pickles — in the St. Cloud area at their new store, No Good Candy.

The store, opening this summer on the ground floor of Radio City Music Mall in downtown St. Cloud, will specialize in Chicago-style goodies.

"I've seen people go on trips to Chicago and they come back with bags full of this stuff," said Diyon Lee, 31, who is opening the store with Anthony Kemp, 28.

Both Lee and Kemp are Chicago natives. After moving to Minnesota, they realized they missed treats such as Sno-Ball shaved ice, Vitner's chips, Super Donuts and Kool-Aid pickles, which are pickles cured in vinegar, sugar and Kool-Aid powder to add sweet and sour flavors.

"There are a lot of people in Minnesota from Chicago — not just here in St. Cloud," Lee said. "We want to give people a reason to come [downtown]."

Kemp moved to St. Cloud about eight years ago. He said he plans to install a basketball hoop and gaming system at the store and offer free nachos. The store is meant to be a positive place for kids and adults.

"People can come here, hang out, get your snacks," he said.

The store's name is a play on children (and adults) being told candy is "no good" for them. But the nostalgia, camaraderie and entrepreneurial spirit they hope to have at the store is a very good thing.

"Candy was a no good thing that turned into a good thing — a great thing," he said.

While Lee isn't helping open the candy shop, she's focusing on another endeavor — expanding her already popular catering business into a food truck that will operate six days a week.

Five years ago, Lee started Bag Lady's Kitchen, a soul food catering business offering wings, oxtails and cheesesteaks.

Lee said she originally dreamed of opening a restaurant, but her plans changed after seeing just how messy and disorganized opening new restaurants can be.

"It made me not want a restaurant," she said. "It gave me ideas of what not to do and a big menu is just not the thing to do."

Her food truck — also called Bag Lady's Kitchen — will sell fan favorites: jerk chicken, cheesesteak egg rolls and wings Tuesdays through Fridays, fried lobster tails and wings on Saturdays and family dinners on Sundays.

"I'll have a different Sunday dinner special like pot roast, mac and cheese, greens — very soulful food on Sundays," Lee said.

Lee, who moved from Chicago to St. Paul as a teenager, said she has customers from around the state. She's lived in St. Cloud for more than a decade.

"I grew up in the cities and I have a big following out there, a big customer base," she said. "They're excited about this, as well, just as St. Cloud is."

Kemp and Lee are hoping the store and food truck are open by July.

Jenny Berg • 612-673-7299

Twitter: @bergjenny