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Popular dessert shop under new ownership after 14 years of business

Local Business

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The Caramel Tree at 2289 E. 17th Street in Idaho Falls. | Rett Nelson,

IDAHO FALLS – Customers of The Caramel Tree in Rigby and Idaho Falls were surprised to see it close in March after 14 years of business.

Rigby native Andy Nelson recently purchased the business. He tells an opening date has not yet been determined but he is planning to open soon.

“I just got the keys at 7:00 (Thursday) night, so everything is very new,” Nelson says. “I have to do inventory and make sure we have supplies.”

An opening date is expected to be announced in the next several days. A grand reopening celebration is in the works as well.

Nelson says he was inspired to purchase the business during a trip to Idaho several months ago. He’s worked for several tech companies in Utah the last several years and was ready to move back to Idaho.

“I heard through the grapevine that The Caramel Tree was for sale,” Nelson says. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and work for myself, and I started entertaining the idea that maybe I could buy it.”

The Caramel Tree closed March 1 just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Chris Merrill, the previous owner, declined to comment on the sale of the business.

Merrill opened The Caramel Tree in 2006 at 146 E. Main Street in Rigby. It was originally Heidi’s Fudge and Merrill was a partner in the business with his aunt Heidi Merrill. Chris bought out her half of the business when Heidi decided to venture off on her own. (Heidi and her husband, Roger, own The Playmill Theatre in West Yellowstone).

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The Idaho Falls location opened in Oct. 2017 at 2289 E. 17th Street.

Going forward, Nelson says he’s focusing on “giving the brand a facelift” with a strong online and social media presence.

“In the face of COVID, I want people to be able to order (online) and have curbside pick up,” he says.

Nelson is hoping to offer catering for businesses, weddings and other events in the future. He says he’s looking forward to serving customers and watching the business grow.

“I hope to see the business continue to grow and succeed and help make people happy,” Merrill says. will update this story when an opening date is announced.