Source, The Times Herald, Gary Puleo
UPPER MERION — The newest resident at King of Prussia Town Center may not be a restaurant like its surrounding neighbors but it has been stirring up plenty of taste buds since the moment it opened its doors recently.
entices, entertains and aroma-therapizes customers with hand-crafted fudge and waffle cones made “theater style” on site, in addition to chocolate, caramel apples, ice cream and a host of other confections in a lively Main Street corner location that faces the center’s vibrant park area.
It’s a setting that was ripe for the 71-year-old Michigan-based chocolatier’s entry into Pennsylvania, noted Gary Simpson, who co-owns the franchise with son Glenn Simpson and Glenn’s wife Sarah.
It’s Simpson’s second go-round with Kilwins (as with Wegmans, the apostrophe in the family name is dismissed), having owned and operated a Rehoboth Beach location from 2010 to 2015, so his business smarts snapped to attention when the Town Center spot crossed his path.
“I owned the Rehoboth store for five years, took a break and sold that, and then got excited about bringing the Kilwins brand to Philadelphia. We looked around the whole area for locations, and this one is really unique,” Simpson said.
“We looked at Cherry Hill, Marlton and several others but they were all big box retail and parking lots and none of them felt right for a Kilwins. It’s really that green space and a cluster of restaurants, as opposed to shopping, and the café seating that creates an energy that’s not there in a town center that has a parking lot and stores. We want people to come in here and be in a good mood, and we think this setting is conducive to that. We want our customers to be in a relaxed mood, to come in here for a mini vacation and we find that restaurants, coffee shops and outdoor spaces is all consistent with that mentality.”
The chain that bills itself as “sweet in every sense since 1947” is filling a void at King of Prussia Town Center that beautifully complements the existing locations, Simpson said.
“I think the developer always contemplated a Kilwins here; it just took a little time to get it all going,” he noted. “Late in the day is when we do best, so we love the restaurants being nearby. Because even if someone has had dinner and dessert, they’ll come in here and hopefully take products home.”
With gift-oriented chocolates available for the Christmas season and Valentine’s Day, year-round customer favorites tempting from their gleaming showcases throughout the store include Sea Salt Caramel Fudge, Pecan Caramel Apples and Cashew Brittle.
Toasted Coconut is a top seller among the 32 ice cream flavors available, made from the original Kilwins recipes.
“Kilwins is unique in the broadness and diversity of the products we sell. Chocolate stores tend to do chocolate, ice cream stores tend to do ice cream, and look at what we’re doing — all in one location,” Simpson said.
“If somebody is shopping for holiday gifts and they want to do something in the confections (arena) this is where you’d want to come because you’re not looking at just one segment of product, you’re looking at all of them.”
Even though the nearest Kilwins is at least a two-hour drive out of state, Simpson has found that brand awareness has been fairly easy to come by at times.
“Kilwins is in just about every resort town in Florida, and we’ve already encountered people familiar with Kilwins from their vacations there,” he explained. “We learned in Rehoboth it takes time to build the brand awareness and have people come in and sample the product, but once they do we have a very high retention factor. The quality of the product and the recipes that Kilwins provide are really outstanding. What we have to do is add excellent customer service to the great product. All we have to do is get people in here to try the product,” he added, “and then we’re very confident it will do well.”
Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream is located at 255 Main St., King of Prussia Town Center, King of Prussia. Phone is 484-681-9457.