Ryan Novak, 21, came on as owner of the Chocolate Pizza Company in July after working under Bonnie Hanyak, the store's founder, since age 15. A student of Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, Novak had ambitious plans for the company since day one. He plans to open a second chocolate shop in Manlius, with a grand opening scheduled for Oct. 1.
Eagle Observer: Before we talk about the new store, tell me, what's it like owning a chocolate shop?
Ryan Novak: It's awesome. Every morning you get to come in, you get to make chocolate for a living. So, nothing's better than that. It's great because you get to manage, you get to put your business skills to use. You get to take care of inventory, orders, customers, vendors, banks. It's just great. I love it.
EO: How has business been in your first three months?
RN: It's been excellent. We're up about 11 percent. These news articles that have come out have been great publicity for us. A lot of people say, 'I've always known about you, but I didn't know how to stop in or when to stop in. But I read your article and I wanted to come in.' It's been great. We've had a lot of new customers recently. We have new corporate clients, which has helped us a lot. We're helping them with their corporate gift giving. And the website ... we are getting internet orders every day and looking to build on that.
EO: And it's a new website.
RN: It's a new website, yes. (chocolatepizza.com)
EO: In July you said you'd like to open at least one new store within the year.
EO: It's September. Why move ahead so fast?
RN: The location (8188 Cazenovia Road) was perfect. It was in a great spot in Manlius. Everyone out there says that they wish we were closer to them. So we just said, you know, we should go with it. We got an opportunity. This is one of the things we want to do, let's do it.