Ask Kilwins franchise owner John Murray which products are the most popular in his stores, and he’ll answer quicker than it takes for a nonpareil to stick to the roof of your mouth.
“Salted caramel,” he says. “Salted caramel fudge. Salted caramel ice cream. Salted caramel apples. Even boxed salted caramels, which is a really popular gift item.”
Kilwins sells handmade fudge, ice cream and chocolates and is based in Michigan. The sweets shops are immensely popular in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S., but there are only three on Long Island, all in Suffolk County.
Murray is getting set to open his second Kilwins store this Saturday at 11 a.m. in Patchogue Village. His other shop is in Babylon Village.
At nearly 2,000 square feet, the Patchogue shop will be largest on Long Island.
“The only word I can come up with is overload. Sensory overload,” Murray said about the customer experience in the new space. “It’s double my other store. So even owning it and working in it is overwhelming, just because of the sheer size of it.”
The look of the Patchogue store will also be different than the one in Babylon.
“The store in Babylon is more traditional,” Murray said. “This has been tailored to reflect the artistic nature of this town, from the wallpaper, to the lighting finishes. It’s a black and white-themed store, with the awning all tying it together.”
“It’s nice because the company’s adaptable like that,” he continued. “There’s a framework I can work within, but they want it to be a part of the community, too, to match the area.”
Murray’s initial application to open a Kilwins on East Main Street the village came with a bit of controversy.
On June 22, after about a month of debate around the village and on social media, the Village Board voted to repeal a law banning formula food franchises in certain areas of the downtown, which included the former Rose Jewelers shop where Murray was looking to open up.
The repeal allowed for the Kirwins to proceed with its application.
Now, almost five months later, Murray says it won’t be long before he knows a lot about the people in and around Patchogue Village.
“Just like a bartender knows what somebody’s drink is, we know what chocolate you like,” he said. “We even have people in Babylon where we don’t even have to ask. We just bag it up and they’re out the door. It’s a like an appointment is set.”
What makes the franchise so popular, he said — people are extremely fond of posting pictures of their treats on Twitter and Instagram using #Kilwins — are the premium ingredients.
“Whatever you’re into, our version of it is high quality,” Murray said.
Top: John Murray behind a display case Thursday at Kilwins Patchogue. (Michael White)