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Great Eats: Finger Lakes Chocolates at The Source
If you can draw a straight line from wholesale produce to handmade bath products to candles to a juice bar to custom gift baskets to make-you-own chocolates to a restaurant, then you are probably a member of the Dickerman family of Corning.
That curving route has led them to Finger Lakes Chocolates at the Source, today's multi-pronged business. The tale began in 1976 with a natural food store, which became popular with chefs and grew into a wholesale business. Cynthia Dickerman decided she was done with corporate life and started doing gift baskets for clients ranging from individual customers to Corning Incorporated. Daughter Laura designed a line of soaps while still in high school, a venture that paid her way through college. Like so many others, she returned home and has joined the family ventures, which could sustain the average person from breakfast to way after dark!
They needed more space this year, and it seemed providence that the historic Hawkes Building on Market Street was renovated and available. Now there is a quirky, cozy space to accommodate all of their varied skill sets.
Grab-n-go breakfasts get the work crowd out the door. The juice bar and café offers gluten-free and vegan options all day. Dinner brings lots of ways to get warm during the winter, like chicken curry potpie and creamy mushroom with linguini. Husband Gary offers kids of all ages the chance to visit childhood and make their own chocolate candy. It only takes twenty minutes or so to create something sweet from one of dozens of mold shapes. His is a self-taught skill, a common theme in the Dickerman family.
But there is no arguing with success. Local residents and visitors have embraced every new venture. "There are customers of the café and juice bar that we know well enough to start their order when we see them coming." Cynthia knows the contents to many gift baskets just by hearing the name on the other end of the phone. Her delightful constructions have ended up as gifts for the First Lady and comedians Will Ferrel and Ellen DeGeneres.
Her favorite memory about one of her baskets stars a thirteen-year old with a broken leg who was sent a "snack attack" gift and thought it was too pretty to even open. As Cynthia says, "How many thirteen-year-old boys don't mow through anything edible? It must have looked good!"
The Dickerman family has a philosophy of taking risks and trying new things.
It is a delicious courage their customers are grateful for.
Learn more about Finger Lakes Chocolate at the Source by visiting their website, or check out their Facebook page!