A Success Story Dipped in Chocolate; Peterbrooke Stays True to Its Roots 25 Years after Its Launch in San Marco Square

Article excerpt

Byline: LARRY HANNAN

When she opened the first Peterbooke Chocolatier 25 years ago it didn't occur to Phyllis Lockwood Geiger to sell chocolate-coated popcorn.

But one day she offered it during a Christmas function, the first Holiday Magic in San Marco Square, and the next day numerous people came in the store wanting to buy it.

"We've offered it ever since," said Geiger.

On Tuesday Peterbrooke celebrated its 25th anniversary by receiving a letter of commendation from Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, who praised the store for being an important part of the local business community since 1983.

Geiger, who posed for pictures with Peyton, said the anniversary recognition was gratifying to her because the Jacksonville community has been supportive of Peterbrooke during the entire time she has been in business.

She opened the first Peterbrooke in San Marco Square after apprenticing with a European chocolate maker in New York.

The key to the company's success has been taking what she learned about European chocolate making, and tweaking it so that it becomes something that's acceptable to an American palate.

For example, you would never find chocolate coated popcorn in Europe. But when Geiger realized the item was popular, she started putting high quality chocolate in the popcorn, and it has been one of the company's most popular items for decades, making up about 35 percent of sales. …