Warren-born business enjoying sweet success

Launched when Hope & Main opened its doors, Anchor Toffee now has its own kitchen supplying two retail locations and a growing number of wholesale customers

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 2/2/19

"We're in the process of leaving Hope & Main," said Katie Kelly who, along with her husband Peter, runs Anchor Toffee, one of Hope & Main's notable success stories. They are leaving for all …

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Warren-born business enjoying sweet success

Launched when Hope & Main opened its doors, Anchor Toffee now has its own kitchen supplying two retail locations and a growing number of wholesale customers

Posted

"We're in the process of leaving Hope & Main," said Katie Kelly who, along with her husband Peter, runs Anchor Toffee, one of Hope & Main's notable success stories. They are leaving for all the right reasons — as an incubator, Hope & Main is, by design, meant to "graduate" the food businesses they help nurture from birth.

It's time for Anchor Toffee to leave the nest.

They're more than ready, with dozens of loyal wholesale customers and retail locations at Bowen's Wharf in Newport and the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, which is also where their new kitchen is located.

With Christmas orders behind them and Newport's tourism industry in virtual hibernation for the next couple of months, it's a good time to make a move. The new kitchen will allow the growing business the flexibility of meeting last-minute wholesale orders at any time, without jockeying for kitchen time at Hope & Main.

"We cooked last Friday and hopefully made enough" to get through the move, said Katie.

The recipe itself is not new. "You've been making it for, what, about 30 years?" Katie asked her husband, a professor at Johnson & Wales University since 2001, where the couple met in 2007, while Katie was a student.

The tried and true recipe was one of the mainstays of a candy business Peter ran with a former business partner in Arizona a number of years ago. The candy did well — the partnership did not — and that business failed as a result of misdeeds, including embezzlement, committed by his partner. Peter continued to make the toffee, as a small business and hobbyist, while working as a restaurant chef and then a JWU professor, in the ensuing years.

Then, everything happened at once: Hope & Main opened in 2015, the Kellys decided to take their toffee production to the next level, and their daughter Michaela was born. Suddenly, they were very busy indeed.

While they work together in all things, Peter takes the lead in the kitchen while Katie manages orders, marketing, and product placement. They have recently hired an employee to staff their Newport store, and they have part-time help in the Pawtucket kitchen.

Their product line is deliciously simple: traditional almond toffee, butter toffee with no nuts, and coconut almond, which is made with coconut milk and is vegan.

They're getting ready to ramp up production for 2019, which they expect will be another banner year. They produced about 12,000 pounds of toffee in 2018, which was up by about 4,000 pounds over 2017. They are anticipating producing 30 to 40 percent more this year.

Katie's goals for 2019 include increasing market saturation in Rhode Island, and exploring more private-label options, particularly with high-end clubs and boutique hotels.

Anchor Toffee is widely available locally, including at Tom's Markets, Clements Market, and East Side Market. It's also available in the gift shops of all the Newport mansions as well as in the mini-bars at the Viking Hotel in Newport. It is also in gift shops at both Logan and T.F. Green airports, and you can even find it at Eataly in Boston's Prudential Center. Not bad for a small Warren-born business.

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