Update: Kilwins Patchogue will be opening for business on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 10 a.m.
Original Story: John Murray and his family have vacationed in Florida since back when he was in middle school.
Over the course of those two decades, visits to the Kilwins chocolatier and ice cream shops in Fort Lauderdale and Lauderdale-By-The-Sea became not just routine, but necessary.
“I had to get a combination of fudge brownie and cake batter ice cream,” he said. “I found myself thinking, ‘Hey, I’m not even an ice cream guy. I’m more of a Doritos guy. Yet I was addicted to this stuff.”
So in 2012, the Wantagh native opened his own Kilwins franchise in Babylon Village.
He’ll be adding a second South Shore shop in Patchougue Village this fall in the vacant Rose Jewelers store on East Main Street.
Murray’s application to open a Kilwins in the village came with a bit of controversy. On June 22, after about a month of debate around Patchogue and on social media, the Village Board voted to repeal a law banning formula food franchises on Main Street. (The New Village complex has been exempt from that law.) The repeal now allows for the Kirwins store to open up.
At a public hearing before the vote, many board members and residents took to the podium to say they welcomed a shop like Kilwins, where Murray would be the face of the store and spend much of his time there. Their only fear was franchises like Starbucks, McDonald’s or even Hooters swooping in and taking advantage of the repeal.
Still, the board voted 5-2 to roll back the law, which was put on the books in 2010. The Kilwins application received Planning Board approvals the next day.
Murray hopes to get his permits in order and start work on the shop by August to open by October.
“I’ve had goosebumps ever since the end of the board meeting,” Murray said in an interview in Babylon Village two days after the board vote. It was the same day he finally got to post a “Coming Soon! Kilwins” sign in his Patchogue storefront.
He acknowledged that he too doesn’t want to see a corporately owned Starbucks branch come to Patchogue and stressed the importance of having a locally owned coffee shop, like Roast Coffee & Tea Company, whose owner spoke out against the repeal at the meeting.
“But how do you pick and choose?” he said.
Village attorney Brian Egan said during last month’s hearing that under the village’s formula food franchise ban, officials couldn’t simply allow some franchises and not others based on those they did or didn’t favor.
Thus, the entire law had to go.
Murray said he and his wife spent about a year in search of the perfect spot for a second Kilwins location on Long Island. “We’re all in on this,” Murray said. “So if it doesn’t work out, it’s scary. But I have that much faith in the village’s economy that I’m willing to take that risk. I couldn’t say that about any other area.”
With Murray now poised to expand east, GreaterPachogue.com visited his Babylon shop to learn more about what a Kilwins does. The only other shop on Long Island is in Huntington Village.
“It’s much more popular in Florida,” Murray said, noting that about 40 of the company’s 100 stores are in Florida.
smell the goodies
“Oh my God, look at all these delicious, fattening goodies,” said one regular, Colleen Kottenbach, addressing employees as she walked into the corner store. One of those employees was making aromatic waffle cones in the Kilwins storefront.
“I like it hot off the presses,” she said when asked of her favorite snacks at the shop.
The Babylon store employs about a dozen staffers and is stocked with ice cream, chocolates, candies and fudge, most of which, with the exception of the ice cream and some other items, is made on the premises.
“We had been coming here for like two years,” said employee Ryan McCabe, 16, a St. John the Baptist High School student, speaking for himself and his friend and fellow employee, Ryan Mulieri, a 15-year-old West Babylon student. “We had been watching John make fudge. Now, we’re basically his apprentices. So it’s pretty cool.”
get out of the doghouse
The Babylon shop gained notoriety after News 12 Long Island visited for Valentine’s Day, when Murray and his staff were featured in the midst of a holiday marathon that saw the shop open for a whopping 41 hours straight.
“I didn’t sleep for 33 hours,” Murray said. “It was pretty much the best thing I did. People really appreciated it because not everybody works standard hours. We had NYPD detectives coming in thanking us. And at 5 a.m., with just one or two customers in the store, you can really give them that personal experience. I’d hope to do that in Patchogue, too.”
Murray jokes that his “specialty” is getting husbands out of the doghouse by sending them back home with a Kilwins custom made gift bag in tow. The bags are stocked with in-store-made non-perils, chocolate covered marshmallows and whatever else is requested.
“If you’re in the doghouse and within a 20-mile radius of Patchogue Village, I got you,” he said.
First photo: Kilwins marshmallows dipped in chocolate and covered with sprinkles. (Credit: Michael White)
What’s the hype about?
— Hannah Carroll (@hcarroll_1) March 7, 2015
— Madeline Carino (@mcarino93) June 20, 2015