For years, Chris Beard’s wife Billi used to drive his grandfather to Vaughn-Russell Candy Kitchen when Grandpa wanted to buy a box of handmade candy. But one day Billi, a life insurance actuary who always had dreams of owning a small gourmet shop, walked in and saw a “For Sale” sign in the window.
In 1999, the Beards purchased the chocolate shop, which has been a long-standing staple in the Greenville community since 1950. Named for the original founders’ two sons, they have continued Vaughn-Russell’s tradition of authentic, hand-dipped chocolates without changing a thing. “I’m using the old recipes with the exact ingredients and processes, and I’m working with the same vintage equipment, which allows us to maintain the integrity of the product,” Billi says, adding, “I even had to apprentice for six months as part of the deal.”
The huge copper vats, four-inch-thick marble tables, and the original stove are still there in the back room, while the front of the shop features a black-and-white checked for, soft grey and white walls, and black wrought-iron pendant lanterns.
About sixty types of candy enrobed in milk, dark, or white chocolate are offered with a distinctive squiggle code on top that reveals what’s inside. Whether splattered Jackson Pollock–style, dusted with cocoa, or sprinkled with toppings, the selection never disappoints. Newer truf e avors include Birthday Cake, Triple Chocolate, and Chili Pepper. This is also the home of the trademarked Mint Pecan—Fancy Mammoth pecans roasted and salted then dipped in mint chocolate—a happy mistake that one of the founders made in the early days.
Their new address is just down the road on Augusta Street, a mile from the old location.
“The move from the old address was, shall we say, bittersweet. We are now serving three generations of customers, including kids whose grandparents used to go to the old shop by bicycle,” says Billi.
Vaughn-Russell Candy Kitchen, 401 Augusta St, Greenville. (864) 271-7786, vaughnrussell.com