Business Beat

Chocolate overflows at Bellmore-Merrick shop's grand opening


Children and their families stepped into a land of pure imagination when they visited Chocolate Works of Bellmore-Merrick for a “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-themed” grand opening –– with a holiday twist –– on Sunday.

Donna Stein, of Merrick, and Rachel Levenberg, of Rockville Centre, officially opened the shop for business on Nov. 24. The pair said they wanted to have a grand opening during the holiday season for their shop, at 2350 Merrick Road, to introduce themselves to the community at a sweet time of year.

The event was held at the store, which sits on the Bellmore-Merrick border, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 15. Aside from tasting plenty of free samples, patrons could take part in various activities that showcased what the business has to offer.

In the spirit of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” the owners offered “golden tickets” that entitled customers to a tour of the store. Attendees also got the chance to make chocolate-covered Oreos, pretzels and graham crackers, and decorate their own chocolate molds.

Children could have their faces painted and received balloons. And Santa Claus was on hand to pose for photos and chat with the youngsters from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There were also plenty of gift certificates and party packages raffled off to the older folks in attendance. Two winners took home a laptop and an iPad, as well. Even if they did not win free chocolates or prizes, patrons could peruse the store for sweet holiday gifts to meet most any budget.

Stein and Levenberg decided to open the Bellmore-Merrick extension of the Chocolate Works franchise after speaking with their husbands, who sell franchises for a living. According to the Chocolate Works company website, the business is the brainchild of second-generation chocolatier and owner Joe Whaley, a West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran whose family has crafted and sold gourmet chocolates for more than 40 years. He opened the Chocolate Works corporate factory and store in Valley Stream in September 2009.