Connie DiCenso, who has developed a loyal following for her CoCo Pies, is now pursuing a new business venture in the fitness industry. She and her fiancé, Monty Burcham, have purchased the Snap Fitness franchise in Chatham.

On Oct. 8, 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 hoped to be able to reopen the business in a new location.

“I spent the last couple of months searching, in hope of relocating the business,” said DiCenso. “It’s funny how things work out, because this opportunity dropped in my lap. And Monty was the original owner of this Snap Fitness when it started 10 years ago. He opened eight different locations; the one in Chatham plus some in Springfield, Bloomington and Decatur.”

DiCenso said that she worked with the corporate offices of Snap Fitness to purchase the franchise for the Chatham location, which was previously operated by ALO Fitness. Adam Lopez was the registered agent for ALO Fitness, which was recently sued for back rent by the landlord for the space.

DiCenso said that taking on this new business venture has changed her plans as far as opening another restaurant. “At this point, I’m going to focus primarily on my gym, but I am going to continue with CoCo Pies,” she said. “I’m working on a wholesale operation in that regard, and I do have a retailer set up.” Tony Leone’s Innkeepers Café, scheduled to open in early 2019 in a historic home across from the Willard Ice Building, will be the retailer for CoCo Pies.

DiCenso said that people are already teasing her about buying a fitness franchise when she is best known for her decadent desserts. “I was joking with John Pruitt, our landlord, about the open space next door. Maybe I’ll just put a pie shop next to my gym and force people to work out.”