ANTIGONISH: It’s been a busy year for local chocolate makers.
On September 9, Tareq Hadhad and his family cut the ribbon on their Peace By Chocolate factory. Last week, Tareq said the factory runs 18-20 hours per day and they also sell chocolates in a small shop which used to be where they made the chocolate before moving to the larger factory. With around 30 employees, Tareq said they are looking for more.
“Today even if there are 10 employees who want to work, we can hire them today,” he said. “Sobey’s were very kind to us. They are like a channel for us for sales and reaching out to more people easily. The feedback that we got from our first shipment to them [three weeks ago] was amazing. They said it was incredible to see how the people are reacting to finding our products in their stores and they are making our products accessible to more outlets in Atlantic Canada. Also, they were very kind to tell our story in their stores and they sold out from our products in the first two weeks since we shipped to them.”
Tareq said they are now working hard to meet the demand from their on-line store, their own store, the Antigonish Farmer’s Market, and their retailers.
“The company really reached a higher level than [expected] and from now until the end of Christmas, we are running… long hours in the factory just to keep up,” he said.
Tareq was the first of his family to arrive in Antigonish, after leaving Syria. When the country became too dangerous for his family, Tareq’s father Isam closed his business and moved his family to Lebanon in 2013. Tareq landed in Canada in December, 2015, with five other family members landing in January, 2016.
Upon arriving, Tareq convinced Isam, a chocolate maker for 30 years, to get back into the family business. The family soon began making chocolate and distributed hundreds of samples at a local potluck to get feedback. After a positive response, they began selling a small amount of chocolates at the Antigonish Winter Market. After the first time, they found lines of up to 50 people waiting for a candy fix. When several volunteers built a facility adjacent to the family’s home, Peace By Chocolate began receiving several positive reviews, including one from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a speech to the United Nations. Since then, demand went through the roof and the family decided to expand, which led to the new factory.