Tag Archives: Madelaine Chocolate

Madelaine Chocolate owner hopes for share of disaster recovery funds

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

Madelaine Chocolate wants its fair share of the billions of disaster recovery dollars coming to the city post-Sandy.

“Superstorm Sandy put us out of the chocolate business,” said Jorge Farber, owner of the 65-year-old Rockaway business. “When I was able to get to the factory [after the storm], one thing was clear: things would never be the same.”

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) held a hearing Tuesday at the Madelaine Chocolate complex where Farber was able to address city officials and request funds from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR), which is expected to bring in about $16 billion for superstorm victims.

Madelaine Chocolate officials are still working to pay back a $13 million loan from the Small Business Association, according to Farber. He suggested the CDBG-DR be “grant-only” because “many employers, like Madelaine, have already taken on all the debt they can handle.”

He also said the grant limit should be raised to $10 million for companies, like his, which meets defined criteria, including a significant number of employees and a great economic impact.

“I am not an economist . . . but Madelaine has the potential to continue to contribute millions to the New York City economy,” Farber said. “Make no mistake, the assistance we are asking for will make a huge difference in the lives of the employees who depend on us to continue making chocolate in New York City,” Farber said.

Before Sandy, Madelaine Chocolate’s 400 employees produced about 20 million pounds of chocolate per year, according to Farber.

The Rockaway Park sweet spot also boasted hiring a majority of their employees locally, as well as providing chocolate for local vendors. Today, they are utilizing half of their 200,000-square-foot complex and operating with about 100 employees, and Madelaine Chocolate is up for sale.

“It is little more than a skeleton crew,” Farber said. “But, if we can get the assistance we need, we can hold up our end of the partnership right here in New York City.”



Madelaine Chocolate facility up for sale but owners say business is here to stay

| mhayes@queenscourier.com


The beloved Madelaine Chocolate factory is up for sale, following a brief comeback after Sandy.

The Rockaway Beach sweet spot suffered over $50 million in structural damages and loss of sales after the superstorm and was forced to shut down for about a year. They partially reopened in October 2013, but as of last week, the facility is on the market, said co-owner Jorge Farber.

“Considering the extent of the damage, there was only so much we have been able to do,” Farber said. “We are sitting on a 200,000-square-foot facility and only utilizing 50 percent of it.”

Madelaine Chocolate officials listed the site with real estate firm CBRE for an undisclosed amount of money. Interested buyers have the option of taking over the unused half or the entire four-building complex.

“There are all kinds of options we need to explore,” Farber said. “We’re going to relocate only if we can sell it. It’s a long, long process.”

The organization does not yet have a relocation space in mind, but one thing is for sure—their chocolates are here to stay.

“Our customer base has remained intact considering we were out for a year,” Farber said. “I’m just sitting on excess real estate.”

After Sandy, Madelaine Chocolate received a $250,000 grant from National Grid and $6.9 million from Empire State Development to retain its 315 employees. The Small Business Association also loaned the company close to $13 million.

They were able to rehire 120 people and partially operate on four of the 14 chocolate production lines.

But despite assistance, the complex at the foot of the Cross Bay Bridge is on the market. Before the storm, it was one of the biggest local employers in the region and had 315 full-time employees.

“The Madelaine Chocolate Company is not only a community gem, but has been one of the largest employers and supporters of our community for decades,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder after the reopening.

At its peak, the 65-year-old chocolatier group produced 20 million pounds of chocolate annually and garnered $40 million in total sales. Its eight kitchens produced about 100,000 pounds of chocolate a day.




Queens chocolate company gets $250K grant for Sandy recovery

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence Cullen

Normally, the staff of Madelaine Chocolate makes Valentine’s Day sweet for countless couples.

But this year, because of Sandy, their holiday was sweetened thanks to National Grid.

The gas company presented owners at Madelaine with a check for $250,000 on Tuesday, February 12 to help the confectioners continue their recovery. The money will go toward getting at least one leg of the Madelaine factory producing chocolate again, said co-owner Jorge Farber, and the staff back to work for Halloween candy.

“It’s a beginning for a long, long road that is ahead of us,” Farber said. “This grant from National Grid is the first substantial outside grant and resources we have received. It’s a very concrete first step because it helps us rebuild one of our 14 molding lines that produce chocolate.”

This is the first of several grants National Grid will give to companies in its floodzone that suffered severe damage from the storm. National Grid president Ken Daly said the power company has a $30 million fund, with roughly 100 companies applied. The amount of grant money will vary based on the company, he added.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the grant would be a boost to Madelaine and the workers who live nearby.

“It’s going to help re-employ some of the workers who have been out of work since October, and probably will be out of work through the summer,” Friedman said. “And it’s going to help the community of Rockaway because most of their workers come from the local area.”

Madelaine, the largest Queens small business with about 450 employees, was the first on National Grid’s list, Daly said, because of the long working relationship between the two. The executives at National Grid are committed to getting Madelaine back and making candy as soon as possible.

“[For] many, many years, they’ve been supporting us as a company,” Daly said. “Today, it’s really our opportunity to return that support and help them get back up and running.”

Farber said the factory had already lost two seasons — Valentine’s Day and Easter — of candy production because of the damage from the storm. The combined cost of the damage and cost of doing business is still unestimated, he said.

The first of the eight kitchens, however, has been almost restored. That kitchen had a staff of 42 and produced about 46,000 of 100,000 pounds of chocolate per day.

The grant from National Grid was the first step in getting the staff back to work, as the company awaits potential loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. As more loans and donations come in, the staff can begin making chocolate goodies for distribution.

“We cannot lose another season,” Farber said. “We need to be back by Halloween.”