Loyal customers of Fear’s Confections might have noticed that the skull-and-whisks logo from its former Waterloo location finally has found a new home.
That logo can now be found entwined with an illustration of an apron-donning pin-up girl emblazoned across a Lakewood storefront window (15208 Madison Ave., 216-481-0888).
It aptly bears an uncanny resemblance to proprietor Cassandra Fear, whose goal for moving her storefront from east to west was to infuse more of herself into her surroundings.
For Fear, a typical day has always meant getting dolled up in Dr. Who attire and peddling hand-dipped chocolates in the shape of skeletons crawling their way out of caskets. Naturally, she chose an early October opening date (Oct. 4) knowing the shop has to be ready in time for both tricks and treats.
“This is the start of my holiday season,” says Fear. “As soon as I start seeing the spirit of Halloween popping up I think, ‘Yes, this is my time!’”
A self-taught chef, Fear began trying her hand at home-baked brownies and candies after losing her engineering job in 2010. Despite having no business background, she learned her way around outdoor markets and enrolled in entrepreneurship classes through the Cleveland Culinary Launch & Kitchen and Bad Girl Ventures. She now runs the business with the assistance of her husband, photographer Jeremy Fear.
Soon after launching, Fear’s chocolate brownies made with fresh whole raspberries and dark chocolate smoked sea salt caramel candies quickly became bestsellers. Her E. 185th Street shop and open-air vending appearances began to gain notoriety as much for her simple baked goods as for her goth-meets-geek chic flare. It takes a dedicated fan base to relocate across town to a new address, but when your specialty dessert repertoire also boasts Tardis and Death Star-sculpted chocolates, a cult-like following tends to just find you.
“All of us nerds stick together,” Fear explains. “I’ve had people buy d20 system chocolates and take them to their gaming nights. Around Valentine’s Day, I had others who drove hours for Dr. Who chocolates. I couldn’t make them fast enough.”
Her small-batch approach, which she affectionately describes as “old school and tediously done,” adds an appropriate touch to her vintage charm. An oversized window with a view into the shop’s upgraded kitchen, which makes up half of the new location, allows for a first-hand peek into Fear’s process. Left with a smaller dining area due to the larger cooking space, she installed a small number of retro tables and chairs for catering meetings, which still make up an important part of her clientele.
Fittingly, the new store’s black and red interior is bedecked with an autographed print from graphic novelist Neil Gaiman, wallpaper covered in classic cinema art (Fear’s tastes lean more towards the Betty Page and Alfred Hitchcock persuasion) and plenty of Halloween paraphernalia.
“I have skulls out all year round at my own house,” says Fear. “My imagination is a little out of hand.”
If her reflective décor isn’t enough to make Fear comfortable in her new environment, it seems she couldn’t be in more welcoming company. For the grand opening, Lakewood newcomers The Side Quest and 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, along with old standbys Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop, Melt Bar and Grilled and Troubadour Coffee Co., will rally together for goodie bag giveaways. Even Waterloo comrade Star Pop Vintage Toys is joining in on the fun. And this time around, fun is exactly what Fear is gunning to be.
“So many chocolate shops are so sickeningly sweet or serious,” she asserts. “I want to be absolutely the opposite of that. Never fear, there’s always something weird in here.”