Just opening the door to Henry’s Sweet Retreat in Bethesda, Maryland takes you back…way back! You walk in and the smell of Kettle Corn, fresh baked cookies and chocolate permeates the air. Your mood instantly changes–beltway traffic? what beltway traffic?–and all of the adult stress of the day melts away as you’re transported back to first grade and the local candy store.

Photo: Henry’s Sweet Retreat

What is Old is New Again
An innovative version of an old-fashioned candy store is exactly what owner Patty Craver was trying to achieve when opening this gem of a place, which has both indoor and outdoor seating and candy-lined walls. The store is named after Tom’s (Patty’s husband) grandfather, Henry Wagner. Henry and Martha Wagner lived in Ohio. When their grandkids visited, Henry gave each a dollar to spend in town and support a local business. The kids inevitably made their way to what many of us will recall as heaven on earth: the five & dime. Five & Dime’s had everything from candy to toys to ice cream. Henry’s Sweet Retreat was inspired by Henry Wagner’s vision of the local five & dime. Long time Washingtonian? Stepping into this store might remind you of the iconic G.C. Murphy on Wisconsin Avenue in the now posh Cathedral Heights neighborhood in Upper Northwest.

Photo: Henry’s Sweet Retreat

The Goods are SO Good
The shop sells all kinds of goodies from homemade fudge to candy by the pound. Stop by weekend mornings and get some coffee with homemade poptarts. After school or after a game swing by and grab a cookie with a fun flavored soda; they have 30 to choose from! And if you’re in the mood for ice cream after a pizza dinner around Bethesda, head over to Henry’s for a scoop of Cincinnati’s finest, Graeter’s ice cream.

Photo: Guiomar Ochoa

Like, the Best Party…EVER
One of the coolest features of Henry’s Sweet Retreat, is the 500-square-foot mezzanine level, which is available for kids’ birthday parties or other special events. Kids’ parties are 90 minutes long, and are themed. Think: a cookie decorating party where each child gets a big ball of dough and a plethora of cookie cutters. While the cookies are baking, the crowd plays a few games like “Guess the Jelly Belly Flavor” or the “Candy Memory Game. After the cookies cool down, HSR staff brings different colored frostings and candy toppings so each child can decorate their cookies and take them home in a personal box. And because you’re in a bakery, they can make the cake for you right there onsite. 

4823 St. Elmo St. (Bethesda, Md)
Online: henryssweetretreat.com

Have you visited Henry’s Sweet Retreat yet? Tell us about it in the comments section below?

–Guiomar Ochoa