Workspace: Marty Lyp, plant manager and head chocolatier, Peterbrooke Chocolatier
Marty Lyp has one sweet office.
Lyp is plant manager and head chocolatier at Peterbrooke Chocolatier at the company's factory store at 1470 San Marco Blvd.
He works with planning, scheduling, training, production, support and maintenance of the factory and its staff, as well as assisting with research and development.
A chef by trade, Lyp worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years, including what he calls a fast-paced two-week stint in a cruise-ship kitchen, before discovering the world of candy- and chocolate-making.
Lyp trained for certification as a confectioner/chocolatier while working with a small, family-owned kosher-candy company in Chicago and has been with Peterbrooke for 11 years.
During that time, the company has grown to 20 stores, all of which are supplied with products created at the 7,000-square-foot factory. Of the space, 3,500 square feet is actual production space.
"We try to be as efficient as we can be and we are always looking for ways to improve," said Lyp. "While the majority of our products are made here in small batches for consistency, as well as freshness, we also do a lot of hand-dipping in the individual stores. This also allows for control of freshness and quantity."
Production at the factory begins with a signature blend of chocolate produced specifically for Peterbrooke by a manufacturer in dark, milk, and sugar-free varieties.
Machines handle the duties of melting, blending, enrobing or molding the products. An average staff of about seven completes the creation of different chocolates, chocolate-dipped items and candies. As many as 20 staff members work during busy seasons.
Toffees, caramels, marshmallows and other confections are made from scratch with all-natural ingredients in the prep kitchen.
This includes the company's signature item, chocolate-covered popcorn. Peterbrooke founder Phyllis Lockwood Geiger created the treat for hungry crowds to sample when she participated in the store's first neighborhood holiday festival in 1983, the year the company was founded.
During the busy Christmas holiday season, Peterbrooke sells about 60,000-80,000 pounds of it, averaging about 2,000-3,000 pounds a day.
"The greatest challenge for us is being able to offer consistency and the highest product that guests desire and expect," said Lyp. "The greatest reward is knowing that I, our team and our company can meet that expectation and hearing the stories of how well it has been received."