Holiday times at North Fork Chocolate Company are one of their busiest, but this year it is also their most uncertain. The gourmet chocolate shop on Main Road in Aquebogue is in jeopardy of losing its space unless its owners can come up with $1.25 million by Dec. 31 to buy their building.
“We are under the gun, so to speak.” said Ann Corley, cofounder of North Fork Chocolate Company. “We really are.” Corley and cofounder Steven Amaral have launched a Kickstarter campaign to try to raise the cash they need to buy the building.
Corley and Amaral, the company’s chocolatier and executive chef, started the company in 2012.
“We only started out with only $500 in our pockets,” said Corley.
Beginning at the Stony Brook Incubator in Calverton, they sold their speciality chocolates to Wild by Nature, Taste NY Long Island Welcome Center, Penn Station, local vineyards, restaurants, and country clubs.
The business expanded and in 2015 their store on Main Road in Aquebogue was opened to the public. This location gave the business the perfect opportunity to use ingredients from local breweries, wineries, and farms in their chocolate bars: chocolate bars crafted with beer from Long Ireland, coffee from the Hampton Coffee Company and wines from several local vineyards. Their latest creation is small batch stone-ground chocolate bars made with fair trade cacao beans called Aquabogg Gold.
Corley and Amaral not only source ingredients from the East End, they also live here.
They say they understand the importance of the community and giving back. North Fork Chocolate Company donates to local schools, holds free chocolate-making and tasting events at libraries, and opens their doors to other crafters looking to make their start.
“We open our doors to other local artists and crafters and food artisans,” Corley said. “They run a little microstore within our store promoting their product. We know how hard it is to get started. We like to help other local businesses.”
They planned to further expand their business on-site tours and classes for both children and adults.
Their lease is up at the end of the year and the owner of the building is selling the property. The real estate agent representing the owner said he is looking for a cash sale and wants it done soon.
Corley and Amaral decided to fight to keep their store and hope Kickstarter can help.
Kickstarter is a crowdsource funding platform that allows businesses, individuals and/or charities to begin verified fundraising projects. If the project reaches the pledge goal set by the organizers, it’s funded. If the project does not reach its goal, it’s not funded.
It is unclear what North Fork Chocolate Company will do next if they are unable to reach their donation goal.
The owners have been looking around the area and are unable to find a facility that can accommodate their manufacturing and store-front. Another option they have is to buy a building without the appropriate facilities and build out, but that would require them to shut down. With Valentine’s Day, their most profitable time, right around the corner, that would strike a blow to the startup that they may not be able to recover from.
“I know it’s a long shot,” said Corley “but I mean, say there was a million people out there and they put in a dollar. That’s all we need.”
Here’s a link to the North Fork Chocolate Company’s Kickstarter campaign: “Chocolatier has unique local twist.”
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