Food — More Than Just A Box Of Chocolates

More than just a box of chocolates

Van Otis on Elm Street expands with a new dessert cafe and factory tours


By Emily Zimmerman []


Van Otis Chocolates is branching out.

For 93 years, the Manchester confectionary has satiating sweet-toothes with swiss fugde, pecan turtles and white chocolate popcorn.

Now Van Otis, which already features a wine shop in its South Willow store and a make-your-own-basket business in its Elm Street location, is adding to its business with a dessert cafe, set to open in October at 341 Elm Street.

About 900 of its 20,000 square feet at the facility will go to café seating for 15 to 20 people and serving “high-end” desserts, pastries, sandwiches and wraps, salads and Starbucks Coffee.

“Everyone we’ve talked to about it loves the idea,” said co-owner Dave Quinn. “We want to create a place where people can come after a show at the Palace or game at the Verizon [Wireless Arena] to get dessert and coffee.”

The café would be open for coffee and breakfast pastries in the morning, sandwiches and salads at lunchtime and into the evening for desserts and coffee. Quinn said over the next month he will paint the room, install display cases and counter tops, and put out café tables. The café will also include a board room for rent for business meetings where clients can gather and have lunch before taking a tour of the factory.

Quinn and co-owner Frank Bettencourt (Quinn’s brother-in-law) have been thinking of the idea for more than a year and believe it will create a pleasant alternative to ice cream for dessert.

In addition, the factory has also started offering tours, so people can see how that famous swiss fudge is made.

Van Otis sells 15,000 pounds of Swiss fudge a year, sales helped along by a Food TV segment on the  candy.

“We’ve had people order the Swiss fudge from Canada and out west. The Swiss fudge is really a truffle. Swiss fudge is chocolate-based, not like penuche fudge, which is made with sugar,” Quinn said.

Van Otis Swiss fudge and other chocolates are sold at their 341 Elm Street and 366 South Willow Street locations as well as in hospital gift shops, flower shops, and on the Internet at

Van Otis also offers seasonal treats, which were under production during a recent tour, such as caramel apples coated with chocolate, nuts or sprinkles, decorated to look like a tuxedo, pumpkin or snowman. Chocolate-covered champagne bottles are available; the bottle is coated in dark and white chocolate and chilled so that when you take the bottle out of the refrigerator, the chocolate breaks apart and complements the sparkling beverage.

Quinn and Bettencourt have expanded their offerings to include nuts, sugar-free chocolates and candies, gift baskets, party favors and corporate customized chocolates.

For more information on the tour call (800) Van-Otis (826-6847).


- Emily Zimmerman

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