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A kid in a candy store: Ryan Novak, 21, purchases innovative chocolate company

He transferred to Temple this past fall where he spent one semester. Novak had high hopes for football, but after problems with his leg took him off the field at Temple, he decided to return home.

"It's just a really tough world to make it in. I decided to go pro in something other than sports," he said. "I spend 15 or 16 hours a day here and I just love it -- wouldn't trade it for a thing."

As a student at the Whitman School, Novak's had the opportunity to network with and receive advice from the best. He spent the spring semester preparing for the task in front of him, "working on marketing plans, learning how to work with banks."

"The professors have been great," he said.

Novak has plans to expand the store as well. He just put up a new, more user-friendly website (ChocolatePizza.com) on Monday and hopes to boost the store's corporate thank you gift business. If all goes according to plan, there might even be a couple more Chocolate Pizza Companies in the area before too long.

"We're going to try and add a few more stores. Slowly, maybe one a year or so," he said. "We've been told many times that if we had a store in Fayetteville or the Manlius area that that would just be great for us."

The Chocolate Pizza Company is almost as young as Novak, as it opened on North Street in Marcellus in 1988. In its 22 years of operation, it's moved seven times within the town, usually to a bigger location. Hanyak feels indebted to the customers who have stayed with her through it all.

"I appreciate all they've done for me," Hanyak said. "And I will miss all of my customers without a doubt."

But for now she'll still be around to greet customers and witness Novak's "ambitions, his energy, his dreams for the company" take off.

"I'm so excited about the opportunity," Novak said, "and we're going to do great things and build upon Bonnie's good foundation."

What's a chocolate pizza?

A chocolate pizza is a disk of premium chocolate blended with a near century-old English toffee recipe and topped with almonds, pecans, walnuts and a white chocolate drizzle. It's served in a pizza box and often accompanied by "wings" -- peanut butter covered potato chips dipped in chocolate.

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