Chocolate is Arlyn Rayfield’s Plan B. Five years ago the Randolph resident retired as a CEO in the health care industry, keeping active at the Bohrer-Kaufman Hebrew Academy of Morris County in Randolph, which her three children, now 22, 20, and 17, attended. She served as the day school’s president from 2005 to 2007, but itched to put her MBA to use again.
“I wanted to do something fun, something that brings smiles to people’s faces, something with kids,” she said.
On July 21, Rayfield opened Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Chester, the fourth New Jersey outlet of a company based in Durango, Colo. A big fan of the chain, she used to drive from her home to Paramus, site of what was then the closest location, “when I was feeling really decadent.”
That store is no longer open and the nearest NJ outlet to Randolph is at the shore in Long Branch.
Now Rayfield is behind the counter of her own store, which held a grand opening Aug. 13-14.
The chocolate is rich and creamy with a deep flavor, formed into truffles, filled with caramel, or covering strawberries and candied apricots. Orange peel dipped in dark chocolate offers the enticing combination of sweet, tangy, and slightly bitter; the tiger butter bar, a best-seller, melts in your mouth.
There’s also fudge and the store’s signature caramel apples, in any number of delectable coatings, including cheesecake, apple pie, and M&Ms.
The recipes come from Colorado, where Rayfield and her husband and co-owner, Marty Schayowitz, went for a week of training. But Rayfield, who once owned a basket company and has a flair for all things creative, offers her own take on the classics, like a peach apple, decorated with sour peach candies, in honor of Chester’s summertime Peach Festival.
Although the chocolate she makes on location is not certified kosher, she does use all-kosher ingredients, and the prepackaged boxed items are certified kosher. She’s hoping local Jewish institutions, including the day schools, will turn to the store for fund-raising opportunities. She plans to market her caramel apples for Rosh Hashana and will use Hanukka sleeves to wrap boxed chocolates in December.
Rayfield has even gotten the OK from the home company, whose prepackaged products are OU-certified, to bring in kosher-for-Passover chocolates from an outside company.
At 54, Rayfield is loving her new title, chocolatier, even if her mother, who lives in Verona is less thrilled. As Rhoda Rayfield arrived at the store, she acknowledged that she preferred her daughter’s CEO title. But she smiled as she went behind the counter, and it was obvious she knows what makes her daughter happy.
As for Rayfield’s children, they tease their mother, saying that the first job she was a failure at was retirement.
The Chester store, at 87 Main St., is open Sunday-Monday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Saturdays, 11 a.m. -9 p.m.