A sweet celebration: Preston’s Candy and Ice Cream turns 75

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Sophia Bella

Preston’s Candy and Ice Cream on Broadway has been serving customers for 75 years and counting.

Sophia Bella, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, Oct. 16, Preston’s Candy and Ice Cream on Broadway hosted a birthday party to celebrate 75 years of business. Over 200 guests visited throughout the day, eager to try the free handmade confections the store was offering.

“I didn’t want to say anniversary because it sounds too old,” said Irene Preston, the owner of Preston’s. “Birthday party sounded more fun!” 

Irene Preston has owned the shop for 24 years since buying it from Art Preston, the original founder. They share the same last name, although the two have no family relation. What Irene and the late Art do share is a love for sweets and a passion for candy making.

Art Preston was an apprentice under candymaker Douglas Shaw in San Francisco. The work experience he gained there ultimately solidified his vision to one day become a candymaker. After serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II, Art returned to his old mentor, Shaw, seeking advice on how to start a candy business of his own. In 1946, Art Preston founded Preston’s.

Before owning the shop, Irene and her former husband had been loyal customers.

  “My husband at the time and I had already been buying candy from Art for maybe 14 or 15 years, so I’ve known the Prestons for a very long time,” Irene Preston said.

At the time, Irene’s husband was traveling frequently and began to tire of it.

“My husband and I joked around about, ‘wouldn’t it be fun if we own Preston’s?’” Irene said.

The once lighthearted idea soon became a reality. 

“[My husband] came home one day and said he would like to buy Preston’s because Art was ready to retire for the second time. And so that was what we did — we took it over,” Irene said.

In 1997, Irene and her husband bought the store from Art, and have been running it ever since.

Every workday at the store is a different experience. Irene generally oversees the candy creation process, deciding the quantity and type of candy displayed. She also works with candy makers in development, where she proposes and reviews new ideas for confections.

“We make a lot of different candies,” Irene said. “It’s always a matter of adjustment because we’re always in production.”

When Irene took over the shop, several high school students were already employed, either for summer or after-school jobs. As a former art teacher, she saw the chance to instill valuable work experience and offer students creative opportunities.

“I use this as a time to help people, especially when it’s their first job, to learn how to work and what the responsibilities are that are associated with having a job,” Irene said.

Christopher Losito, a senior at Burlingame, has been working at Preston’s for one year.

“I started off serving customers ice cream, and then I got interested in doing chocolate work,” Losito said. “I’m starting to get better and better as I go, learning new things from people who’ve worked there longer.” 

Losito remembers going to Preston’s as young as age three. 

“It was probably one of the first times I got ice cream,” Losito said.

Barbara Moher, who graduated from Burlingame in 1959, knew the shop from its very beginnings.

“When the store opened up 75 years ago, I was a customer,” Moher said. “I was around five years old, and my father would take me down there for a vanilla ice cream cone.”

Moher began working as an employee at Preston’s in 1992. Through the job, she was able to create connections and memories with the community.

“I got to know kids from when they were in kindergarten all the way through college coming in,” Moher said. 

Whether it be candy or otherwise, Irene wants people to recognize the hard work that goes into creating products.

“The things that you eat, drink and see, those are all [results] of people doing things,” Irene said. “If you have an understanding of the work that’s involved, it gives everything a lot more meaning.”