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Greco Nut & Candy’s Renee Ryan celebrates 40 years of satisfying sweet tooths

By Katie Arvia

LANSING, Ill. (October 22, 2022) – A staple among Lansing’s diverse shopping options is Greco Nut & Candy, and one of Greco’s staples is Renee Ryan. A long-time employee, Ryan celebrated her 40th anniversary with Greco earlier this month. Her tenure began in Calumet City, at the very first Greco location. Ryan said she applied for a job to help raise her children and has been employed with the candy shop ever since.

Over the years, Ryan has worked at various Greco locations. She said that when a new store opened, she would usually work there to help get the new location up and running before heading back to Lansing. Sometimes she would spend a year at a different location but has been working at the Lansing Greco store for over 30 years of her 40-year career.

Greco, past and present

“I did start at Calumet City and then I came to Lansing. Then they opened one in South Holland. I went there, went to the Dolton store, then I came back here, and I’ve been at this location for quite a while,” Ryan said.

The candy store was opened by a father and son duo and was eventually sold to John and Jean Fager in 2008 after the father passed away and the son was ready to retire. The Fagers were originally the Grecos’ accountants.

Greco
Longtime and new customers from all around come to Greco Nut & Candy to enjoy the many sweet options. (Photo: Katie Arvia)

Currently, there is a Tinley Park location in addition to the Lansing one, with plans to open a third store in Schererville, Indiana. Unfortunately, the Indiana location has been on hold since the beginning of the pandemic, and it is uncertain when the store will open. Ryan will be on board to help out whenever the store is ready to open.

Close with customers

Over the course of Ryan’s 40 years with Greco, she has grown close to her customer base. In fact, her favorite part about her job is the customers and listening to them reminisce about the “olden days” and the candy they grew up with. Since so many customers are regulars at Greco, Ryan said she knows a lot of customers by what they purchase.

Renee Ryan helps customers that stopped in all the way from Hegewisch. (Photo: Katie Arvia)

Many customers have been coming to Greco for so long, that Ryan watched them grow up: “[My favorite memories have been] watching the kids that I’ve waited on grow up and seeing them bring in their children now,” she said.

Sometimes there’s a playful rivalry among Ryan and the customers. Ryan described herself as a “major, major” Cubs fan, who serves a lot of White Sox fans in Greco.

“We go back and forth a lot, but it’s good fun,” Ryan said.

Good times at Greco

Diverse flavors from diverse eras are available at Greco. (Photo: Katie Arvia)

Although Ryan has since moved out of Lansing, she lived in the village for as long as she’s been employed by Greco: 40 years. Her three sons, RJ, Steven, and Joe grew up playing baseball in Lansing, which became a huge part of Ryan’s life outside of work.

“Every day it was baseball because I’m a baseball-a-holic. [My sons] were sports-a-holics and still pretty much are,” Ryan said.

Thanks to her time at Greco, Ryan was able to see all three of her sons off to college. She now has two grandsons and her entire family lives near her new home in St. John, Indiana. Despite the move, Ryan said the commute usually isn’t too bad.

While visiting the store, it’s apparent that Ryan and her customers have a great rapport. She engages with everyone who enters Greco and skillfully answers questions. Many customers have come from out of town specifically to shop at Greco, thanks in part to Ryan’s diligent customer service skills.

Raphael Calzonzi Sr., a resident of the south side of Chicago, frequently stops in at Greco to see Ryan and purchase gifts for his family and friends. He said he easily spends an average of $50-100 per visit, as the candy makes people in his life happy.

“I’ve been following Greco and Renee for years,” Calzonzi said. “I’ve got people hooked on this, the nostalgia. It’s incredible.”

Renee Ryan and Raphael Calzonzi Sr. (Photo: Katie Arvia)

Greco Nut & Candy is located at 3153 191st Place in Lansing, and 7950 167th Street in Tinley Park.

Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").

2 COMMENTS

  1. Love the the story on Greco Candy and Ms Ryan. I often say my husband is a ‘frequent flyer’ at Greco. That was a Sweet story!

  2. My favorite cubs fan i would see her everyday i would pick up my uncle from the pizzeria next door and see her almost everyday such a great lady and always knew that my uncle would get tons of candy for my 4 kids i will forever shop here!! Thank you for 40 years!!!

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