Walk into Dolce and you immediately notice the aromas of chocolate and coffee, the colorful displays of gourmet treats and gift items and the buzz of activity. Manager Amy FitzGerald helps a customer make a selection then artistically wraps it up with ribbons and bows while Kristi Green brings out trays of freshly molded chocolates and other employees answer the phone and gather orders for delivery to customers.
Dolce opened on South Main Street in New City just over eight years ago. FitzGerald said the staff grows from two to five during the holidays of Christmas and Easter and Valentine’s Day. In fact, Valentine’s Day has become very busy with women and men buying chocolate gifts for their spouses and significant others.
“We’ve been in the business a total of 26 years,” said owner Angela DaBenigno. “We’re only here in this location eight and a half. It’s a family business.”
DaBenigno and FitzGerald are not related – yet. FitzGerald is engaged to DaBenigno’s son John and she has been working in the family business for 12 years. Another employee, Teddy Guerzon, is a future son-in-law engaged to DaBenigno’s daughter. DaBenigno’s cousins, nieces and nephews work in the stores.
FitzGerald, who started out at The Chocolate Place, the DaBenigno’s Bronx store, said she likes the craziness of the holidays and they feed off the energy and excitement of it.
Her future father-in-law, John DaBenigno, said they have been fortunate to have loyal customers.
“Being busy is great especially the way the economy has been,” he said.
FitzGerald said some of the store made specialties include chocolate covered items such as Christmas sleighs and sprinkle covered trees, Thanksgiving turkeys, high heeled shoes, vases with flowers and dipped strawberries plus biscotti.
John DaBenigno said what started out as his wife Angela’s hobby surprised them by becoming their family business. It began in 1986 when Angela was chocolate and molds and created holiday treats for family and friends, who soon began making special requests.
A steady stream of customers moved in and out of Dolce, which means “sweet” in Italian, puzzling over what to select for teachers’ gifts and admiring chocolate dipped pretzels and the wide variety of chocolates. The shop also sells gift items from stuffed animals and costume jewelry to baby accessories.
Dolce is located at 212 South Main Street in the Clarkstown Plaza. The phone number is 845-634-2784 and its Facebook page features photos of their chocolate creations.