Isaac Jaeger walked into the new Abdallah Candies store for the first time Friday and exclaimed “Oh!”
The 4-year-old quickly surveyed the candy smorgasbord laid out in front of him and ran to the hard candy section. Picking and choosing red, blue, yellow and striped candies wrapped in cellophane, he proclaimed them “yummy perfect.”
Jaeger was one of nearly 200 customers who enjoyed the sweets at Abdallah’s new retail location and manufacturing plant in Apple Valley, which opened a day earlier.
The new 75,000-square-foot complex, which includes a production facility as well as the retail store, brings 20 more jobs and additional capacity to the chocolatier, which has been growing sales 5 percent to 11 percent annually.
“We had to expand if we wanted to keep up with demand,” said Steve Hegedus, owner and great-grandson of the founder. The new location allows even additional expansion of 85,000 square feet.
With the new complex in Apple Valley and another in Burnsville, the company employs 145 people. But Hegedus said he has no interest in expanding too quickly or changing the traditions that started with a store at Lake and Hennepin in Minneapolis more than 100 years ago.
“We’re a traditional candy company,” he said. “We don’t mind passing on a trend if we don’t think it will last.”
He gave the example of savory flavored chocolates which people may try once but rarely go back for more. Abdallah’s sea salt caramels, alligators (similar to turtles) and butter almond toffee are its bestselling staples.
With the relocation of the main plant that shut down production for seven weeks, the lines, including two new ones, are operating at near capacity as the candy maker moves into its third-busiest season, Valentine’s Day, which is outsold only by Christmas and the period around Easter and Mother’s Day.
The new retail store has less of a contemporary feel than the Burnsville store. Hegedus describes it as rustic elegance with old-fashioned cart displays and hand-cranked caramel spinner with a vast copper kettle.
More than 150 chocolate varieties line the glass cases and more than 100 packages of chocolates are sold off display towers. A dipping window similar to the one in Burnsville where guests can watch hand-dipped candies being made will be added in late summer. The shop also sells gift items and greeting cards.
The candy company sells locally to Lunds & Byerly’s, Kowalski’s and Jerry’s as well as 7,000 boutique shops around the country. It also makes private-label chocolates for larger companies, such as warehouse clubs.
“I want people to come here as an event, who know that we’re a local, family-owned business that’s been here since 1909,” he said. “This is chocolate that people can relate to on an emotional level, not just a sugar fix.”