A Black entrepreneur and parent has launched a new cereal bar and novelty candy store in Beverly to create a sugary haven for locals and introduce her children to the basics of starting a business. Owner Qiana Allen, who also operates a women’s boutique called Culture’s Closet, opened Munchiez earlier this month with 33 types of cereal, sweets by the pound, over-the-top milkshakes, and more.
Allen’s sons, ages 15 and 20, helped inspire the notion of a neighborhood cereal bar. She hopes to help instill in them an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to turn their sugar and cereal habits into something profitable. “They go through so many boxes of cereal every day, it’s crazy,” says Allen. “I wanted to find something they enjoy so it won’t seem like work.”
Choosing cereals proved to be a monumental task: while Allen made sure to include a few of her children’s preferred brands, she also held a tasting event in the neighborhood and got feedback from would-be customers of all ages. Familiar bowls like Lucky Charms, Trix, Apple Jacks, and Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries all made the cut, and are served with a variety of colored and flavored milks, in hand-held cereal bars, or infused in “loaded” milkshakes like the “Puff Diddy” (Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Oreos, chocolate ice cream).
Muchiez also offers a few savory hits from Allen’s own childhood, like pickles and walking tacos served with a choice of Doritos, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, or Takis Fuegos topped with cheese, salsa, jalapeños, and sour cream. She’s visited cereal bars in New York and California and noticed that the businesses don’t typically last long, so she hopes the candy store and additional menu items will help Muchiez stand out in the long term. The candy selection is divided into a few sections including novelty items, proffering unusual options like “Lil Nitro, the World’s Hottest Gummy Bear” and the Paqui “One Chip Challenge,” a bag that holds a single blue corn chip coated in seasoning from a super-hot Carolina Reaper pepper. Allen is also selling classic standbys like Jolly Ranchers and Charleston Chews by the pound.
A website is still in development — fans can follow along on social media for now — and Allen hopes to use it to sell goodie packages that customers can send to loved ones who can’t get a hold of their favorite candy. She also plans to introduce “Munchiez After Dark,” a BYO space for adults to socialize and possibly sing along to karaoke. Allen doesn’t plan to apply for a liquor license as she wants to make sure the space is still friendly to people of all ages.
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The 1,900-square-foot space at 1803 W. 95th Street is outfitted with playful elements like bright candy-colored walls, retro arcade games like Ms. Pac Man, and neon glow-in-the-dark countertops. Though it was originally designed for a maximum capacity of 30, the pandemic has forced Allen to scale back — for now, she’s allowing 15 people inside at a time and only seating eight, and menus are available via QR code.
Buildout began in January and continued through Illinois’s stay-at-home order, but Allen’s plans to open the first weekend of May were stalled because of the virus. She says her landlord was understanding and they set up an arrangement so she wouldn’t open at a loss. “I wish we could have [opened] at the beginning of the summer, but everything happens for a reason,” she says. “I’m optimistic and more people are coming every day.”
Munchiez, 1803 W. 95th Street, Open 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.