Article and photos by Autumn Evans
Local chocolate lovers gathered at an otherwise quiet business plaza to celebrate the opening of Jacolatte Fine Confections from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, at 2131 Sawyer Drive, across from the former Summit Mall in Wheatfield.
Jacolatte, the name of which came from a cold chocolate drink brought to Europe from Mexico at the eve of exploration, is the first business of local entrepreneur Amber Haick.
Her little shop was packed wall-to-wall at points, with customers willing to wait more than 15 minutes in line for their turn to buy some of the homemade chocolates.
"I had not a clue on how many were coming," Haick said. "As the days went on, my anxiety was building and I was very scared of how many people were going to come, but it's been absolutely wonderful."
Haick first opened her shop back in April. She said business since Easter had been sporadic, spread mainly by word-of-mouth and Facebook, but it became nonstop the week before the opening.
"My biggest concern, even at home, is always running out food," Haick said. "And of course, I don't want my shelves empty right now, but it's wonderful that so many people came and supported me."
To advertise the grand opening, Haick also sent out about 500 postcards to area residents.
One of those postcards reached Karen Goltz, a resident of Cayuga Drive for more than 60 years.
Goltz said her brother started a business nearby years ago, so she understood the difficulties new storeowners face.
"I know what community support means to a new business, so I thought I'd just come over and say hello," she said, adding, "I know a lot went into starting this, and I admire her and wish her well. It's a big adventure."
Goltz said she was surprised but glad to see the turnout at the store. But if every customer shares her opinion on the sweets, the store should remain busy for quite some time.
"Every piece is delicious," Goltz said. "I haven't decided which kind I'm going to purchase!"
A postcard about the opening also drew in Arlene DeRosa, who otherwise did not know about the shop or its owner. She said the grand opening was her first visit, but she liked what she saw.
"It's pretty good, there's a lot of people," she said. "I wish for their success, it looks really good."
Visitors at the grand opening were treated to samples of the specialty chocolates and the chance to enter a raffle for a $100 Visa gift card, plus a free chocolate-covered pretzel stick on their way out.
One of the things that set Haick apart from her competitors is that all of the chocolate is made on-site, with organic ingredients. All non-chocolate items sold are locally produced, such as New Day Coffee and Johnnie Ryan soda.
Another unique feature of the shop is Haick's ability to customize orders. Because everything in made on-site, if a customer, for example, wanted English toffee with dark chocolate instead of the standard milk chocolate, Haick can do it. After a customer places an order, it takes between a few days and week to finish, and they can pick it up at the store.
"I just really want to work with people and what they like, and I'm small enough that I can do that, whereas all these other places, they're manufactured elsewhere," she said. "Here, I make (the chocolate) right here, so you come in, and I can get you exactly what you want."
Prices for standard chocolates range between $1 and $15, whereas gift baskets start at $15 and go up from there.
Haick said that, in the future, she hopes to be able to hire more employees to help out around the shop, including someone to help with making the chocolates, which she currently does alone.
She said she also hopes to have a website running by the end of the year, at which point customers could place orders online and have their orders shipped out to them.