Could an innocent college survey be responsible for the return of a once beloved candy and ice cream shop?
Earlier this week, a Regis University student put a market survey online that asked people if they remembered Michelle Chocolatiers & Ice Cream, which closed in 2007, and, if so, "would you frequent the business again?"
The response to the student's survey, coupled with comments on a Gazette Facebook post and blog item, was so positive that Michelle's former owner is considering reopening the chocolate shop that was at 122 N. Tejon St.
"When I drive by the old store over the years, it is like a ghost waiting for me to return," said Andy Michopoulos. "I have never dismissed the possibility."
The student who put the survey online was Cathy Michopoulos, the ex-wife of the late Jim Michopoulos, Andy's brother. Cathy Michopoulos, 50, was working on her university Capstone market research project when she decided to use Michelle's as a project base. (The survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/s/VJSX8K6.)
She said she used the former shop partly because she was familiar with the store and partly because she wanted to see if there was enough community interest to reopen Michelle's.
"But I didn't realize it was going to get all this press," she said.
Michelle's was founded by Andy's parents, Lois and John, as a candy shop in 1952. It moved to 122 N. Tejon St. in 1954.
In 2002, Andy, 59, expanded the candy store into Denver. The expansion failed, costing the company nearly $1 million.
The IRS took the building in a voluntary seizure in 2007 to satisfy federal tax liens totaling nearly $250,000. At the same time, a Denver bank foreclosed on a $295,000 loan, according to earlier Gazette stories.
The 3,756-square-foot building that once housed Michelle's was bought in 2010 by Rai Vhim Raj Kumar and Kamala Ghimire for $450,625, according to the El Paso County Assessor website. The owners could not be reached for comment. If Michelle's is to make a comeback, it likely will have to be Andy who makes it happen. He is the only survivor out of four brothers.
Cathy Michopoulos said she and her late ex-husband often talked about reopening Michelle's, and she knew Andy was considering reopening it. The unexpected and overwhelming positive response to her survey and in the media prompted Cathy to talk to her brother-in-law about taking the step.
"And if Andy would do it, I would be in there with him," she said.
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275