While nobody has been able to grow cocoa beans on the East End — at least yet — North Fork Chocolate Company makes products that will surely pass the test for even the strictest locavores.
The honey in their fleur de lis-shaped treats came from Southampton, the peanut butter in their truffles came from organic peanuts grown at Mar-Gene Farms in Mattituck and the strawberries used to make the heart-shaped “Amores” comes from Sep’s Farm in East Marion.
Patrons will be able to fill a heart-shaped box with those offerings and more when North Fork Chocolate Company officially opens its new Aquebogue storefront to the public at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Ann Corley and chef Steve Amaral, the co-owners of the company, initially made their chocolates and pastries at the Calverton Business Incubator at Stony Brook University, though they now make their products at Grange Hall in Northville. Many other artisanal products — most coming from the incubator — will be available at the shop on consignment.
“We’re opening the store to other start-ups and incubator companies,” Corley told us during a recent tour of the space, the former Esprit de France shop. “They can rent shelf space and have a micro store inside our store. They’re responsible for their own merchandising and inventory.
“Knowing how hard it is to be a start-up, we figured there’s power in numbers.”
Corley has plans to host birthday parties, paint and taste events, wine tastings with Jamesport Vineyards at the space in the future. She also hopes to open a juice bar and ice cream shop in a barn on the property that most recently housed a Castello di Borghese tasting room.
North Fork Chocolate most recently had a brick and mortar shop in the Tanger Outlets food court. That store closed in February 2014.
“After Tanger, we got our workout. It was such a great experience,” she said. “It was more than an education.”
Although the store was not yet open to the public on Wednesday morning, a steady drip of customers and potential vendors still popped their heads in nonetheless.
Sisters with All Saints Orthodox Monastery in Calverton, who will be selling their handmade soaps and lotions, dropped in and Randy Kopke of pickle company Backyard Brine stopped by to set up a display.
“It will be awesome. Right on Main Road, that’s good exposure for us,” said Kopke, who also produces at the incubator. “I’m psyched for Steve and Ann.”
Jane Andrews of Southold came in the store to pick up two boxes of chocolate — one filled with dark chocolates for her husband Fred and one with filled with milk chocolate for her son Luke and his girlfriend Kristina Knobel.
“It’s wonderful that this is locally sourced,” Andrews said. “And who doesn’t love chocolate?”
The chair of First Presbyterian Church of Southold’s cemetery committee, Andrews wondered aloud if the company could make a giant chocolate tombstone for the organization’s annual benefit in the summer.
“We can do that,” Corley assured her.
North Fork Chocolate is located 740 Main Road in Aquebogue. Call (631) 599-4944 for orders.
See more photos below.