Chocolate business proves sweet for local entrepreneur

Chocolate business proves sweet for local entrepreneur

A selection of truffles made made by Cocobon Chocolatiers is arranged on a plate. Owner Dave Saidat says he tries to use local additives like fruit and nuts in his chocolates.


Photo by Sefton Ipock


A
selection of truffles made made by Cocobon Chocolatiers is arranged on
a plate. Owner Dave Saidat says he tries to use local additives like
fruit and nuts in his chocolates.

Anderson resident David Saidat loved Fannie May’s chocolates, and
the company’s closure was the straw that broke this camel’s back.
Although Fannie May’s recipes were purchased and the company reopened
in 2004, the hole it left pushed Mr. Saidat to start making his own
chocolates and form the base for CocoBon Chocolatier.

Mr. Saidat took a chocolate-making class, but he was always pretty
good in the kitchen. He came up with some of the company’s sweet
concoctions on his own. Other recipes, he stumbled upon in the process.

“It’s part science. It’s part art. It’s part fun. Well, it’s all fun,” Mr. Saidat said. “It’s a great way to express yourself."

Mark Aumann pours melted chocolate into a mold to make chocolate suckers.


Photo by Sefton Ipock


Mark Aumann pours melted chocolate into a mold to make chocolate suckers.

Business Spotlight

Name: CocoBon Chocolatier
Location: Anderson
Type of business: chocolate maker
Number of employees: 3
Contact: (864) 332-1560 or orders@cocobonchocolatier.com

Anyone who’s eaten CocoBon Chocolatier’s candy has Chicago-based Fannie May Confections Inc. to thank for their experience.

 

The former computer science worker is living his dream these days.
He’s got a house on Hartwell Lake and the small, family business he’s
always wanted.

CocoBon Chocolatier is a three-man business that opened in January.
When it became clear Mr. Saidat couldn’t keep up with making and
marketing the chocolates alone, he brought his son Alec Saidat in as
the accounts manager and his son-in-law Mark Aumann on as the
operations manager.

CocoBon Chocolatier makes five chocolates lines in a commercial
kitchen behind Mr. Saidat’s home. The company’s variety boxes and Tiger
Paws, which are basically turtles geared toward Clemson University
fans, are its most popular items.

Mark Aumann pours chocolate into plastic molds to make chocolate suckers for Cocobon Chocolatier in Anderson. Owner Dave Saidat said the chocolate suckers have been a big success at area fairs and festivals.


Photo by Sefton Ipock


Mark
Aumann pours chocolate into plastic molds to make chocolate suckers for
Cocobon Chocolatier in Anderson. Owner Dave Saidat said the chocolate
suckers have been a big success at area fairs and festivals.

The young business is receiving support from several local vendors.
The Kitchen Emporium, Split Creek Farm and Genevieve’s Boutique in
Anderson, The Village Shoppe in Pendleton, and Susan’s Hallmark Shop in
Clemson all are carrying CocoBon Chocolatier products. The company also
has procured a deal to provide a line of three deserts to The Chiquola
Club when it opens this fall in Anderson.

“I love that he’s local,” Kitchen Emporium owner Gay McLeskey said.
“He’s so open to whatever we ask for and whatever customers ask for.”

Mr. Saidat shows his passion about his chocolate in his obsession
over details like packaging and in the way he describes each confection
at chocolate tastings, said Brenda Thompson, one of the store’s
employees.

When the kitchen is at full speed, the men can make 700 pieces of
chocolate a day. Alec Saidat estimates that the three of them could
produce up to 500 boxes a week, and all three laughed when asked if
they could ever get tired of chocolate.

“Each one’s different, so you can never get tired of it,” Mr. Aumann
said while working diligently on a tray of chocolate lollipops.

The goal for CocoBon Chocolatier is to make each piece a unique flavor experience. So far, they are succeeding.

The molded pecan pie pieces use a mix of dark and milk chocolate.
The filling will make you think they stole grandma’s recipe. The lemon
chiffon is lemon butter cream coated in white chocolate and its subtle
kick tastes like a lemon pastry crème Girl Scout cookie. Then there’s
the double shot latte — chocolate butter cream infused with espresso
and coated in white chocolate.

CocoBon Chocolatier’s lines are expanding as the company gets its
name out. Chocolates don’t hold up well in the high temperatures at
summer fairs and festivals, so they created sippers — a cocoa-based
cold drink with hints of berry flavor — and dippers, a chocolate fondue.

The company also plans to introduce two new products later this
year: cocoa java bites, a dark chocolate with finely ground flavored
coffee inside; and a hot drinking chocolate.

No matter how big CocoBon Chocolatier becomes — and Mr. Saidat is
planning for growth — the men are determined to ensure that the quality
never changes. Each bite should create the snap that comes from
perfectly tempered chocolate.

“What we do is what we do, and I’m going to keep on doing it,” Mr. Saidat said.

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