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'Keana's Candyland' closed, painted over - and for sale

by: RITA A. LEONARD - The former Keanas Candyland on Milwaukie Avenue in Westmoreland, shown in this photo taken before it closed, had an eye-catching exterior, and many sweet surprises inside. For those who enjoyed the highly decorated and imaginative “gingerbread house” at 5314 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, just south of McLoughlin Boulevard – the gingerbread is gone.

In October, “Keana’s Candyland” moved out of the venerable house, and owner Tanea Storm says she is intent on rebuilding the fantasy somewhere else. Meantime, she posted, “After forty beautiful years, thousands of great customers and millions of blessings, we have had to close.” THE BEE has chronicled her struggles to remain open at that location in recent years; a mortgage taken out a few years ago proved to be the back-breaker.

The dazzling restaurant, bakery, and candy shop grew up, detail by detail, hand-painted by Tanea Storm, who sought to create “a unique and colorful candy resource targeted to dreams of sugarplums and fairies”.

From the candy-cane striped front porch columns to the gingerbread folk cut-outs and candies mounted all over the exterior, Keana’s Candyland addressed the imaginations of the hundreds of children who visited there.

Storm, trained as a chocolatier by her grandmother, created the fanciful candy shop after surviving a frightening mob attack at Lloyd Center that left her then-boyfriend brain-damaged. Tanea named the shop Keana’s Candyland after her daughter, whose photo welcomed visitors in the front yard for many years.

Storm’s imagination and artistry spread throughout the residence/candy shop as she continued to paint fanciful scenes of sweets and sweet dream scenes over every inch of the interior.

Jellybeans and dancing giraffes covered the walls of one upstairs room, fairies and unicorns decorated the stairwell, and 3-D pies and cakes hovered upside-down across the ceilings. Knights and fair maidens, castles and mermaids, and other fantastical scenes, grew along the walls, hallways, and sales areas.

The front porch and stairs were dotted with cookies and candies, and – for a while – enormous cupcakes fashioned from up-side-down lampshades were hung from the edge of the front porch.

Holidays and fairy tales alternated with the seasons, as the front yard décor changed from Christmas stockings to life-sized costumed Easter bunnies waving at passing traffic. The house was a “perfect storm” of color and imagination that Tanea hoped would enchant customers. At the heart of it all, Storm wanted to offer a vision of hope and positive energy to those who needed the “warm hug of possibility” to escape bad life experiences, as she had. Storm eventually became a minister/counselor to troubled families in an effort to help them achieve more rewarding lives.

The restaurant received mixed reviews from visiting patrons who expected topnotch food along with the eclectic Disney-esque décor. While excelling at creating gluten-free baked goods and candies, the shop may have over-reached in adding restaurant selections as well. Keana's Candyland was a go-to site for kids’ parties, while the restaurant fare may not always have lived up to adult expectations.

However, Keana’s Candyland was a unique landmark in the Westmoreland neighborhood, and many are saddened that it is gone. At one time, Tanea hoped to add elements of a theme park at the rear of the property, but too many ideas and insufficient financing, coupled with the vagaries of the housing market, brought the adventure to a close.

Storm’s website – friendsofcandyland.blogspot.com – indicated that an inspiring picture book celebrating the artistry and mission of Keana’s Candyland is in the works. By November, when huge orange dumpsters and a new bluegreen painted exterior surrounded the erstwhile Fantasyland, Storm posted that she was looking for another location. “We will be posting the events we will be involved in over the coming months, and revealing our new location, once we have finished negotiations,” she wrote. “We are not taking orders at this time, but will be shortly, and a new product list will be posted online. Orders will be shipped via U.S. Post Office Priority Mail.”

In the meantime, the former candy emporium, restored once again to being no more than a stately home overlooking Oaks Bottom, is for sale, and a small home next door has been razed to make way for a new two-story house done in vintage style.

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