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Baltimore Business Journal
March 21-27 1988
By Stacey Butler

Ah, the sweet smell of success Old world chocolate finds new home on Charles street Move over Mary Sue Easter Eggs. Albert Kirchmayr wants to be Baltimore’s premier chocolate maker and he’s not talking your basic, run-of-the-mail America chocolate. Kirchmayr says his European-style chocolate is better.

“What I do isn’t what people (in America) are used to. My chocolates are very European,” he said. “I don’t think anyone in this country makes this kind of chocolate --- or in the same quality.” When Kirchmayr opened Kirchmayr Chocolatier on North Charles Street last October he invested everything be owned, including $70,000 for the special equipment imported from Europe that he needed to make his special brand of candy. This equipment takes up 5 cubic meters in his shop which is not a typical candy store looking for walk-in customers.

Kirchmayr makes bulk amounts of candy in his minifactory and sells to a few set customers which so far include The Hecht Co., La Confetteria at Harborplace and the Corner Sweet at Cross Keys. He employs a few part-timers, but makes most of the chocolate himself. His products include 20different flavors of chocolate, chocolate novelties like Easter eggs and bunnies, chocolate shells and truffles. He imports his ingredients from Europe, which is what he claims makes his chocolate so much better than American brands.

“We use totally different raw materials,” Kirchmayr said. “They (American candy makers) sell their product for less than what I pay for my chocolate alone.” In three months, Kirchmayr said he used a ton of chocolate to fashion his candies. Ginny Dixon, the acting candy buyer for the Hecht Co., heard about Kirchmayr’s chocolate from a friend.

“It only took one taste to decide (to carry his chocolate),” she said. “The product is fabulous, I’ve never tasted anything like it before.” Kirchmayr hasn’t been making chocolate all his like, but he has been cooking for most of it. For five years before he delved into chocolate making he was a chef at Baltimore’s Bonnie View Country Club. He decided he wanted to go into candy-making but had no background in it. Originally from West Germany, Kirchmayr “went home” to Munich and for a year worked for the Daeuvel Co., one of the foremost candy makers in Europe. While there a 75-year-old “old master” who had been making chocolate all his life took Albert under his wing and taught him everything he knew about the craft.

Kirchmayr then attended classes in Lucerne, Switzerland, returned to Munich for his equipment and headed back to the United States, which has been his home for 10 years, to open his shop. Though he has only been in operation for five months Kirchmayr predicted that by the end of his first year in business he will break even. His strategy is to proceed with the business cautiously. “I just want to feel my way through. The first year I just want to see what the response is,” he said.

In the week before Valentine’s Day, the store sold $5,000 worth of candies. Most of the chocolates Kirchmayr sells to the stores go for $12 a pound --- wholesale. Janet Winegarden, the owner of La Confetteria, which has carried Kirchmayr chocolates since December, said the response has been good. “His chocolate is very nice, creamy, European-style. He uses European molds and packaging. Right now
customers are attracted to the look of it --- it’s adorable. Of course, they like the taste too,” Winegarden said.

Helen Brown, manager of The Corner Sweet, likes Kirchmayr’s chocolate so much she has devoted 25 percent of her display case to it. Brown was the owner of a candy store in Towson for 15 years and said that makes her a good authority on what is good chocolate.

“It’s one of the best chocolates I’ve ever had. And the customers love it. If they can’t afford to buy a pound, they buy one or two pieces,” Brown said. Though cautious, Kirchmayr does want to build up his list of clients to include more department stores, candy shops and hotels. What with the word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers like La Confetteria’s Winegarden that shouldn’t take long. “As long as he keeps selling, we’ll keep buying,” she said.

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