Plans change for CoCo Pies, Innkeepers Café

Fans of CoCo Pies are still waiting for another opportunity to purchase the decadent desserts in Springfield, and while owner Connie DiCenso recently moved out of state, she says she hopes to bring her pies back to the capital city even if she’s not living here.

Last October, DiCenso closed Café Coco, a restaurant she had been operating at 3705 N. Dirksen in Springfield for nearly six years. DiCenso said her landlord would not agree to make improvements that the county inspectors were requiring, but she intended to reopen the business in a new location.

In December, SBJ reported that DiCenso and a partner had purchased the Snap Fitness franchise for Chatham.  At the time, she said she planned to focus primarily on that new business venture, rather than a new restaurant, but was working on a wholesale operation for CoCo Pies. She was also in discussions with Tony Leone about using his new venture, Innkeepers Café, as a retail location.

“She used my place for staging to sell her pies for Thanksgiving,” Leone said, noting that DiCenso sold nearly 500 pies for the holiday and received a lot of positive comments about the space, located in a historic home across from the Willard Ice Building. “I was trying to get her to run my café,” he explained.

However, DiCenso said she sold her share of the Snap Fitness franchise in early March and took a three month break in Los Angeles, where she worked as a private chef on yachts. DiCenso has now moved to Denver, Colorado, where her youngest son lives and intends to divide her time between there and L.A. for work. She also said she is hoping to make her pie business work not just in Denver, but also in Springfield, where her oldest son still lives.

“I came across an incredible business opportunity out here; I’m trying to launch a new project,” DiCenso said. “If plans go through here in Denver, I’ll have pies available in Springfield as well. I’m trying to figure it all out.”

In the meantime, Tony Leone is also trying to figure out who will run his new café, which was originally scheduled to open in January . “I have a couple of people who would work there, but I need to turn this thing over to somebody who really can run with it. This is a coffeehouse with grab-and-go food, not a restaurant, so having a barista is key,” Leone said. “I’ve been talking to two ladies who are baristas; I’m hoping they’ll do something with me.”


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