Iconic New York Chocolate Company ‘Madelaine’ Finds New Life After Sandy

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Chocoholics rejoice! A New York City chocolate institution has new life after Superstorm Sandy nearly washed it up.

Madelaine, the pride of the Rockaways, an iconic chocolate company that has stirred up smiles for 65-years is sticking around thanks to millions in city recovery and development funds.

“Sandy put us out of business, that’s what it actually did,” Jorge Farber, President, Madelaine Chocolate told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Hurricane water washed out $50-million in specialized equipment and stockpiles of chocolate. One of the city’s largest manufacturers was shut down.

“It was very heartbreaking. Right before the storm we had 450 people working here. But, unfortunately we had to lay them off,” Farber said.

Employees like Letty Canela.

“I lost my job for two-and-a-half years until they called me back,” Canela said.

The company has rebuilt slowly, but has only been able to hire back a quarter of their workforce.

“We felt that we needed to do everything we could to get our workers back to work,” Farber said.

For a multi-million dollar company small business loans were a drop in the bucket. The family owners put the 3-block land up for sale.

Mayor Bill de Blasio sweetened the pot, raising the cap for Hurricane Sandy business grants. Madelaine gets $13-million in awards and in return delivers chocolate and jobs for the next decade.

“They say ‘okay, we are going to help you guys out and help you get back to business to where you were before and get people back to work,'” Farber added.

Part of the package means Madelaine will be hired, but their priority is to hire those who had been laid off.

They will double their workforce in two years.

The company has a rich history, it was started by holocaust survivors in 1949.

“They were looking for some name that gave it some sort of pizazz,” Farber said.

Madelaine’s name graced 20-million lbs of chocolate a year.

With Easter bunnies in production it’s clear that Madelaine’s has a recipe for the future.

The Mayor’s office said the grant is part of a larger focus in the Rockaways of job creation and supporting Sandy impacted businesses.

 

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