Catherine Pastron used to be an engineer. Now she makes and sells chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered crabs and just about anything she can make into a decadent treat. Her shop, Catherine’s Chocolates, is in the French Creek shopping district in Avon.

Pastron started out six years ago in a former bakery in Amherst. Though she says she loved the location, the 900-square-foot shop proved  a bit too cozy to serve as kitchen, office and showroom. After a brief move to the Promenade in Westlake, she settled in Lorain County two years ago.

Now she and her one part-time employee are “in a 3,200-square-foot former pre-Civil War home with plenty of room to spread out.”

Entering the Candy Business
After losing her job at Alltel following layoffs, Pastron decided to turn a long-time hobby into a business. She admits she had no idea how much harder it would be to provide daily inventory for sweet-toothed customers than it was to make sweets for family and friends. She got help from her husband, Dennis, and from her father in reconfiguring that first workspace to meet her specialized needs.
She keeps the stove running now as a personal outlet. “My business lends itself to creativity,” she says. “It allows me to express myself.”

Filling the Gaps
Pastron says you’d be surprised how many times other than holidays people buy her confections. Add weddings (chocolate-covered apples for favors), parties, graduations, Mother’s Day and baseball games to the list of epicurean events that demand chocolate. “We’re going into our second year of providing chocolate to loge guests of the [Frontier League] Lake Erie Crushers.” That’s a good thing for business because summer is her slowest season.

Her Favorite
Catherine’s favorite goodie is also her signature creation. “Customers love our sandstone crabs,” she says. That would be a caramel center with roasted and salted pecans smothered in — what else? — chocolate. If that sounds a lot like the confection known more commonly as a turtle, it’s pretty close. “But ours ended up with these little appendages that look like crab claws,” she says. And since Amherst was once known as the sandstone capital of the world, the name fits.

Perks for the Kids
Pastron’s kids aren’t really kids anymore, though you’d never know it when they come to visit. Matthew, 30, and Brian, 28, “pillage the case” to stock up, says Pastron. Plus, now there’s a granddaughter. She’s still a toddler these days, but once she gets old enough to figure out what Grandma does for a living she’ll be like — you see it coming — a kid in a candy store.