For years, anyone visiting Washington, D.C., would, in addition
to taking in all the sights, undoubtedly come across The
Original Velatis Co. candy store.
Founded by Salvatore Velati, a candymaker who came from Turin,
Italy, in the 1850s, The Original Velatis Co. first opened its
doors in Richmond, Va.
After that store was destroyed by fire as a casualty of the
Civil War, Velati moved his business to downtown Washington,
D.C., in 1866, establishing a confectionery heritage that lasted
During the turn of the 20th Century, several more The Original
Velatis caramel stores were opened in Washington, D.C., thus
establishing Velatis caramels as a Washington tradition.
Velatis Co. owner Amy Servais cooks up batches of
caramels, turtles and toffee in the kitchen of her store
in Silver Spring, Md.
The disappearance of Velatis’ famous caramels in the 1980s left
many Washingtonians, including Amy, wishful for their return. In
1996, the Servais family — led by Amy — acquired the rights to
the name and recipes, establishing a mail-order business in
Florida. Five years later, they left Florida and opened a shop
in Maidens, Va.
But it wasn’t until last December that the Servais family
decided to establish a retail shop in the Washington
metropolitan area, opening a store in Silver Springs, Md., next
to the city’s historic post office. Inside, two large vintage
photos provide a glimpse of the company’s history and its
That history becomes reality when customers sample the caramels,
which are made from old European recipes dating back to the
“Today, we continue the tradition of hand-making and
hand-cutting the caramels, which are made with the finest and
freshest ingredients with no preservatives or artificial
ingredients,” Servais says.
Available in a crumbly as well as chewy style, the caramels come
in more than 21 different varieties.
“Today, thousands of Velatis customers either come into the
store, order via telephone or visit our Web site,
says. “We continue to service customers that are sixth
generation Velatis caramel lovers.”
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
I signed up for tap, jazz and ballet lessons with my friends at
age 12. I just knew that I was going to be a dancer. I
eventually realized I was too tall, so then I chose fashion
model … then a fashion designer. In high school, I was a member
of the swim team and dreamed of the Olympics.
Name one or some of your favorite movies.
I happened to see “Julia Child’s Kitchen” at the Smithsonian and
then decided to rent the movie, “Julie and Julia.” I liked it!
It really showed how much women have progressed.
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
A trip to Peru’s Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas,
located high in the Andes Mountains. I’d love to hike the Inca
Trail there, retracing the steps of the ancient Inca
What book are you currently reading?
“Can You Keep a Secret?” by Sophie Kinsella. She’s the author of
the “Confessions of a Shopaholic” series. Besides eating my
caramels, this was a recent guilty pleasure.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be
stranded with on a desert island?
The Discovery Channel’s “Survivorman,” Les Stroud. Or even
better — George Clooney!
What’s your pet peeve?
Poor and/or impolite customer service. Smiles and thank yous are
I’d give anything to meet:
My great-grandmother, Amy Gauvreau, whom I was named after. She
was also a businesswoman, and owned a rooming house and rented
rooms in the 1930s. In the 1960s, she renovated them and made
I would also like to meet Milton Hershey. He established The
Lancaster Caramel Co. in 1883 before Hershey’s.
The best piece of advice I’ve gotten:
“You can do anything you want … just get your education first.”
This was from my mother, Carol Servais. She was right!
What excites you about your job?
First, hearing the childhood memories from older customers and
what the candy means to them and their family. And secondly, as
owner of Velatis, I get to introduce this candy to the next
generation of candy lovers.