Kilwins Sweets Shop Franchise Opens On Congress Street

Sunday, August 12, 2012

While the recently opened downtown Kilwins is one of about a hundred franchise locations across the country, this one is very much a family affair.

"I'm a native of New Hampshire and have always worked in retail for a family," said Janette Desmond, owner of the franchise. "When my brother, who works in the corporate offices of Kilwins, told me they wanted to open one in Portsmouth, I was ready!" At a glance Kilwins Owner: Janette Desmond Address: 20 Congress St., Portsmouth Phone: 319-8842 Web: Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday Desmond and her family moved from the Manchester area to Portsmouth in November, and the search for a location began.

"We couldn't have done it without the help of Bill Mouflouze," Desmond said. "He worked so hard for us and found us a great rental home, as well as this space. This is the best location possible for Kilwins." Kilwins was founded in 1947 by the Kilwins family in Petoskey, Mich. Petoskey remains the home of its headquarters and the store is still a family business. The chocolate candies continue to be handmade and rolled there.

"During the franchise process, I did a lot of research about this location and the demographics," Desmond said. "Kilwins is a great fit for downtown Portsmouth." As for the store being all in the family, Desmond's mother, who is in her 80s, will be in the front handing out samples; Desmond's sister, Sylvette Chenett, is the store manager; her husband plans to pitch in from time to time; and her son, a college student, will be a part-time employee. In addition to her family members, Desmond has hired a staff of 15 and one full-time cook. The kitchen is right in front of the shop and is visible through the large glass windows.

"Since we've been training, people keep pushing their noses against the glass and watching us," she said. "They love to see what we're doing." For starters, the waffle cones are made each day, visible through the window or from inside. There are 32 flavors of ice cream and also a selection of sorbetto and frozen yogurt.

"The ice cream is super premium and as good as it gets," Desmond said. "Right now, we're going to highlight two of the new flavors, salted caramel and All-American Two Berry Pie. The caramel will likely stay, as it's a huge hit." Caramel popcorn is popped in the store and packaged fresh every day. The caramel and fudge toppings are made in-house as well.

"We dip lots of things, to order," Desmond said. "These include apples, Oreo cookies, Rice Krispies bars, Twinkies - you name it.

"We make all the fudge here in large, copper bowls," Desmond said. "We make our own caramel, too. We have chocolate-covered pretzels and sticks, all made here." The chocolate candies are handmade in the Petoskey kitchens, one by one. The ice cream is shipped via trucks owned and operated only by Kilwins, which are fitted with state-of-the-art frozen storage equipment to keep the ice cream exactly the right temperature.

Kilwins also serves shakes, root beer floats and mix-and-match cones or cups.

"Yes, we'll even split a single scoop," she said. "So many of our flavors go great with each other." A popular flavor nationwide, with children especially, is the Superman. It is notable for its fruity pink, yellow and blue ice creams, swirled together. Fudgie brownie is also a favorite, as it is made with Kilwins chocolate ice cream and chocolate brownie pieces, with chocolate flakes swirled throughout.

"We also sell taffy, made the old-fashioned way, pulled and rolled," Desmond said. "We offer gift cards and boxed candies. You can select the size and mix yourself or choose one already boxed by us." Kilwins had a soft opening over the weekend, but will have a grand opening during Labor Day weekend. The shop mascot moose will be on hand and there will be special promotions. Kilwins is available for parties. There is limited indoor seating.

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Kilwin's Chocolates Franchise
1050 Bay View Road
Petoskey, MI

Phone: 231-758-3923
Fax: (231)439-6829

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