By Emily J. Minor
City & Shore Magazine
Palm Beachers have known about Hoffman’s Chocolates for decades. It’s the place with the homemade candy to die for. Milk chocolate caramels. Chocolate-covered cherries. Pretzels dipped, just-so, in white chocolate.
Addictive, yes; but totally worth the calories.
And now there’s a new guy in town at this South Florida chocolate factory, and Randall Vitale thinks he’s landed a pretty sweet deal.
A Miami native who attended Florida State University, started his banking career with SunTrust and then moved to more high-end services at Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, Vitale – married, living in Fort Lauderdale and the father of a new baby boy – has been brought on board the once family-owned company to expand Hoffman’s products throughout the state, and beyond.
“Hoffman’s is a well-kept secret in Palm Beach County and now Broward,” he says. “And depending on where people are from, they maybe have heard of us. But the goal is to, eventually, have more people know about Hoffman’s and know that it is a Florida-operated chocolate company.”
Started as a small family business in Lake Worth in 1975, the company soon moved its operations to Greenacres, where it became known for its annual Holiday Wonderland, a drive-through forest of lighted holiday displays that’s still popular today (this year’s runs Nov. 19-Dec. 30).
But two years ago, realizing they could do only so much with limited resources, the family sold to BBX Capital Corp. Since then, BBX has expanded into Broward – first, on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale, then Hollywood, Plantation, Weston and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. This month, they’ll open a store in the Delray Beach Marketplace.
With all this growth, that’s where Vitale comes in.
As the new regional vice president of the company, Vitale, 39, says he’ll work across all departments – from marketing, to finance, to manufacturing – to “take Hoffman’s legacy and grow it.” Another new marketing strategy? Hoffman’s has a food truck now, called the SweetRide.
A South Florida guy at heart, Vitale currently serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Broward Workshop and Leadership Florida and is chairman of the Broward Housing Council.
Oh, and his favorite Hoffman’s treat? A caramel apple, of sorts, that’s actually dipped in white Oreo filling, then rolled in crushed Oreo cookies. Unreal, he says – although the pretzels dipped in dark chocolate are pretty darn swell too.
And it’s all here to stay.
“The same people are making the chocolate,” Vitale promises. “It’s the same recipes, the same everything. We just want to take Hoffman’s Chocolates and grow it.”