MARCELLUS (WSYR-TV) - What started about three decades ago as a small piece of a Marcellus business has grown the past five years into a nationwide hit.
Chocolate Pizza Company is taking off under the leadership of its young 26 year old owner.
Ryan Novak tells NewsChannel 9, “We purchase the highest grade chocolate you can buy. Then we take it from there, do a tempering process to make it more useable and mold it the way we want to."
They've been doing a lot of that lately since Ryan Novak bought the company in 2010.
The boy who grew up next to the little Marcellus gift shop that sold chocolate pizza and started working there at 15, now runs the company.
"In the back of my mind I was always thinking I'd really love to own this business and take a shot at taking it somewhere big." Novak says.
So the former S.U. kicker, finishing up his work at the University's Whitman School of Management, bought Chocolate Pizza at age 21.
He says, "That first year I slept in my office for a whole year. I slept, I'd go to work and do a little work, do a little homework, drive up to Syracuse and do some class work, come back here and work again."
Novak knows the time is now to grow his business, and it has about 450%, far beyond the 10 to 15% he envisioned.
The new manufacturing facility that just opened in October triples the size of the former location.
“I had the momentum of being a young kid, I had a lot of good publicity and good press behind me so I wanted to roll that into making a successful business," Novak says to NewsChannel 9.
Novak says while the chocolate blended with English toffee served like a pizza is a big hit, the offerings had to grow.
The original menu was simple two kinds of pizzas and their style of wings, chocolate and peanut butter covered potato chips.
The new retail shop just opened in October features 250 offerings, colorful and custom products driving the innovation.
The packaging has also changed from a regular looking pizza box to one with the name and a window.
Novak says, "We branded it with the chocolate pizza. We also put a little story about chocolate pizza on there so people receiving it in Oklahoma can get a feel for what Chocolate Pizza is, they can go online and they can buy it."
Products are packaged up everyday to go all over the country, including to over 1,000 Hallmark stores all over the USA.
"A lot of people we work with now are very impressed that we're in Hallmark because it's a very tough place to get into." Novak says he worked hard to earn that contract.
The Hallmark order just doubled, plus there’s Bass Pro Shops and two national pharmacy chains not ready to be named.
Custom orders include an also unnamed Supreme Court Justice, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench and Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski.
My wife and I were on vacation in Hawaii and we were able to buy some of our products in Honolulu." Novak noted.
Chocolate Pizza Company products can now be found in all 50 states.
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