TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the pandemic has forced countless businesses in the area to close their doors, a newly-retired teacher is opening up shop in Downtown Tampa.
Jennifer Hill will run the new Peterbrooke Chocolatier shop at 777 N. Ashley Drive in Skypoint.
“It’s a boutique, retail chocolate extravaganza experience,” said Hill. “We run the chocolate, make the chocolate by hand and we do it out behind glass so you can see while we’re making the chocolate and we will even custom-make things to order.”
The Peterbrooke shop is owned and operated by Hill, a retired Jacksonville school teacher and her husband Ryan, a senior manager at Johnson & Johnson. The couple’s two daughters, Drew and Sydney, also plan to help with the day-to-day operation of the business.
“The thing that’s so awesome for my sister and I, is that we are honoring and supporting our mom’s dreams,” said Drew Hill. “She did it in her life to being a schoolteacher and now she is dedicating her life to bringing people joy in the form of chocolates.”
“We were in Jacksonville for six weeks, training at the factory, in different stores to learn exactly how the chocolate works, what temperature it needs to be to work. There’s a lot of things that go into it. And I believe that we learned everything we possibly can to make the chocolate beautiful and tasty,” said Sydney Morton.
Currently, the Downtown Tampa chocolate shop is under construction but is set to open for business this fall. Along with hand-made sweets, the shop will also offer team-building classes, summer day camps for children, private parties, catering, and corporate gifts.
Hill told WFLA.com she understands the risks of opening her family-run business during a pandemic but claims chocolate sales in the U.S. have increased since COVID-19.
“The chocolate business is booming,” said Hill. “Chocolate sales are up 20 percent in America, up 40 percent around the world. If you’re not doing well selling chocolate, you’re doing something wrong.”
Hill also believes we could all use a pick me up during this time and chocolate is the perfect fix.
“This is a good business. It’s affordable, it’s decadent, it’s delicious. It makes people happy. And that’s why I’m confident I can keep going and do well here. People need to feel happy, they do.”
For more on Peterbrooke Chocolatier, visit their website.