Sophie Bolich

Milwaukee Public Market Announces What Will Replace Kehr’s

Freese’s Candy Shoppe will satisfy your sweet tooth.

By - Feb 22nd, 2024 01:57 pm
Chocolates from Freese's Candy Shoppe. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Public Market.

Chocolates from Freese’s Candy Shoppe. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee Public Market.

Earlier this week, Urban Milwaukee reported that Kehr’s Candies will exit Milwaukee Public Market at the end of the month. The announcement was met with dismay from fans of the longtime candy shop; however, a new development may help to sugarcoat the news.

Freese’s Candy Shoppe is slated to open in the former Kehr’s Candies space, offering handmade chocolates, roasted nuts and other signature products, the market, 400 N. Water St., announced in a news release Thursday afternoon.

Wendy Matel, co-owner of the West Allis-based candy store, said that she is looking forward to expanding with a second location in Milwaukee.

“This is the start of an exciting new chapter for our family and the Freese’s business,” Matel said in a statement. “We take great pride in our handmade products, and our roots in the candy making industry go back nearly a century. We’re thrilled to have our offerings included alongside the impressive lineup of vendors at the bustling Milwaukee Public Market.”

Freese’s, a family-owned business, got its start in 1928 under Otto Freese. Matel began working for the company when she was 16, gathering experience and honing her candy-making skills until she was ready to take over. She did just that in 1995, purchasing the business with her husband, Mike.

The couple, along with their children Sam, Kailey and Madisyn, have carried on the legacy of the nearly century-old business ever since. Today, the family continues to lean on many of the shop’s original recipes from the 1920s. The company is especially known for its fairy food, toffee and turtles.

Though they’ve sought to keep much of the business the same, the Matels have expanded their offerings with Heavenly Roasted Nuts, which they introduced more than two decades ago. The sugar-coated nuts are now sold at American Family Field, Wisconsin State Fair, Lambeau Field and other locations.

In some ways, the story of Freese’s Candy Shoppe mirrors that of its predecessor. Paul Martinka, co-owner of Kehr’s Candies, joined the business at the age of 18, working as a stock boy under the founder’s son. After spending 12 years learning the ins and outs of the candy-making trade, Paul took over as owner in 1995. Today, Kehr’s continues to reference original recipes dating back to the company’s earliest days in the 1930s.

Following its exit from the Public Market, Kehr’s plans to offer its hand-dipped chocolates and old-fashioned candies for online orders.

Kehr’s will remain in its current location through the end of February. After that, Freese’s will move into the 500-square-foot retail space situated next to Thief Wine Shop & Bar.

If all goes well, Freese’s is expected to open at the market in March, during the lead-up to Easter — a momentous holiday for candy stores — when it plans to showcase a variety of seasonal treats.

Paul Schwartz, executive director of the Milwaukee Public Market and Business Improvement District #2, said the business will be a “significant addition” to the market. “We’re thrilled to welcome a long-traditioned candy business to the Historic Third Ward, he said in a statement.

“In many ways, the Freese’s story parallels Kehr’s Candies’. They’ve been part of Milwaukee history for decades and their handmade candy have generated an incredibly loyal customer base.”

Additional information, including a grand opening date, will be announced in the coming weeks.

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Categories: Food & Drink

One thought on “Milwaukee Public Market Announces What Will Replace Kehr’s”

  1. lobk says:


    Couldn’t resist.

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