Now here’s a story you might not know about Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
People love going to Samuel’s Sweet Shop in Rhinebeck, New York, for its range of candies, colorful confections, and great coffee, among other things. But more than its gastronomic treats, the cute little store also offers its clients a sense of community.
“Everybody knows your name,” said Rachel Hyman-Rouse, a regular customer at Samuel’s.
The shop also has its fair share of loyal patrons, including celebrities Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and their spouses, Julie Rudd and “One Tree Hill” star Hilarie Burton.
After its original owner, Ira Gutner, suddenly passed away in April 2014, the couples—who had been coming to Samuel’s for ages—purchased it in December 2014.
Like so many others in the community, they couldn’t bear the thought of the charming shop shutting down. It has been an integral part of the community, and they wanted it to stay, so they decided to buy it.
Rudd and Morgan are both residents of Hudson Valley and have been coming to Samuel’s with their families for a long time. Morgan is an avid drinker of the store’s coffee, while Rudd brings his family to the shop and Samuel’s tent at the Dutchess County Fair.
Morgan said that when he and Hilarie started getting coffee at Samuel’s, Gutner made them feel that they were home.
“We just got each other. Saving Samuel’s is one of the coolest things we have done,” he said.
With the help of a third couple, Andy Ostroy and Phoebe Jonas, who also had ties to the entertainment industry, they stepped in to save the shop from closing. They’ve also used their celebrity to promote Samuel’s on national television shows recently.
Morgan, who stars on “The Walking Dead” as the villainous “Negan,” wore a Samuel’s hat on an episode of “Talking Dead,” a talk show that follows each episode of “The Walking Dead.”
In an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” last month, Morgan presented the host with a Samuel’s gift basket while promoting the shop and Rhinebeck.
“We couldn’t buy an endorsement like that, with a national television audience,” said Mary Kay Vrba, president of Dutchess Tourism.
The 22-year-old store had retained its local charm, thanks to the careful management of John Traver, a Rhinebeck resident who started working for Gutner when he was 15.
Gutner’s estate ran the store following his death, and with no means to buy and run it, Traver feared the shop would soon close.
Luckily, the actors and their families encouraged him to keep going and promised they would keep the store running.
According to Traver, Burton told him: “Whatever you do, don’t close the shop — hang in there.”
“It continued to operate in the wake of Ira’s death,” Traver said. “Due to lots of hard work and good fortune, it continued to operate.”
“There was triumph out of tragedy,” he added. “I had lost my friend. But these really great people came forward and helped me and saved the local candy store and now I have this incredible opportunity to make this place as successful as I can, which is awesome. It’s great.”
Traver is now a partner in the store who manages its daily operations. He said the business is evolving.
“When I was 15, it was fun to go to work and sell candy and coffee,” he said. “Now, it’s more of a different thing. We need to have this business grow and be as successful as possible, so we can employ more local people, so we can buy more products from our local artisans.”
For Rudd, who works the register occasionally, the best thing about being an owner of a candy shop is “getting my favorite holiday candy in June.” As for his wife, “the magic of Samuel’s, especially during the holidays, makes me feel like a little girl again.”
For Hilarie, it’s all about helping the people in the community.
“Samuel’s strives to be the trophy case for all the talented people we have in our community,” she said.
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