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New Tampa chocolate factory's secret ingredient is brotherly love

chocolate factory
Posted at 6:44 AM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-13 18:13:36-04

TAMPA, Fla. — What began in the Hamptons has migrated all the way to Tampa. This year, a new chocolate business moved into Sparkman Wharf and you could say that their secret ingredient is brotherly love.

Austin and Grant Gappelberg always dreamed of one day following in their family’s footsteps and opening their own Hampton Chocolate Factory. They just didn’t think it would happen in Tampa or so soon, considering they're only 21 and 19.

Austin and Grant were born into chocolate, growing up working for the family business.

“We basically were in it since the beginning, going to farmers markets, and we were in the store every day during the summer," older brother Austin said. "Instead of hanging out with friends, we were in the store."

But when the pandemic hit, these brothers say the Hamptons went from the sweet life to the stale life.

“So we spent our whole COVID in Naples, in Florida, kind of fell in love with Florida," Austin said. "My family threw out the idea because I was at the University of Delaware previously, they said 'why don’t you transfer?'"

Austin started attending the University of Tampa, immersing himself in their Spartan Excelerator and Incubator Program.

“Next thing you know, Grant decides he’s going to follow me down here," he continued. "Now we are both here in Tampa, and what did we do? We brought the Hampton Chocolate Factory to Tampa."

In January, they opened up their first location at Sparkman Wharf, but this time with no parental supervision. They are the bosses now.

“We grew up living in the same room. We shared a bedroom, so we’ve learned how to communicate, and that definitely helps us run this business,” Grant said.

They'd like to think they're putting a new twist on an old favorite, such as their Frozen S’more and giant ice cream cone.

“My dad always said, 'You guys as a team are unbelievable,'” Austin said.

The only thing bigger than their cones is their passion to continue the family legacy right here in their new hometown.

“We’re beyond proud. What we are doing is spreading the chocolate love,” Austin said.