Butchers, Bakers, & Candy Makers
Locals aim for a slice of the food industry pie
(page 7 of 10)
Company: Dave’s Sweet Tooth
Products: Toffee (currently six varieties)
Distribution: Online, plus some 200 stores throughout Michigan, including Hiller’s Markets and Vince & Joe’s locations; davessweettooth.com
Back story: After Andy Chmielewski’s father, Dave, retired as a Detroit firefighter, the two started making small batches of Dave’s toffee recipe. They started selling at local craft shows during the holidays — placing the product in Mason jars and printing labels off a computer.
Apparently, enough people thought the sweet-filled jars were nice gifts. They started getting calls for orders. Then a store asked about putting it on their shelves. The result was some 12-hour shifts.
That’s when the younger Chmielewski had to “get serious” about licensing. Plus, he admits, “My mom wanted us out of the kitchen.”
After he sought and received advice from Garden Fresh Salsa’s founder Jack Aronson and vice chairman Dave Zilko, “They took me on a tour [and then] pointed me in the right direction,” he says.
Dave now plays a lot of golf” and explores new flavors or varieties —what Andy calls “product development.”
Business has tripled from year to year, Andy says. “Hopefully, in 10 years, we’ll be turning down an offer from Pepsi,” referring to tales that Garden Fresh turned down a multimillion-dollar offer from the food giant.