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Owner Whips Up New Look for Chocolate Shop

When your establishment has been around since the 1970s without a remodel, change is well overdue. Those were Frank Sheftel’s thoughts as he spearheaded the $10,000 renovation of his Candy Factory shop in North Hollywood. New flooring, a new candy counter and expanded services have given the shop a more contemporary look and a boost in clientele. “It’s been 38 years and it was just time for a facelift,” Sheftel said. “After a while you come in and get used to it, but we were stuck in the 80s. Now it’s very clean and crisp.” The remodel of the 2,000-square-foot shop at 12508 Magnolia Blvd. was completed at the beginning of the month and Sheftel has since noticed a 10 to 15 percent boost in traffic. Now, in addition to selling chocolate-making supplies directly to consumers, Sheftel also sells an assortment of homemade chocolates made at the factory that he displays in a glass case he purchased from a defunct bakery. A new seating area overlooking the glass windows at the front of the shop has been set up, and checkered black-and-white diagonal tiling has replaced the original flooring. The shop also sells Dandy Don’s homemade ice-cream, made by a Van Nuys ice-cream plant owned by Don Whittemore. “People that are regulars are coming by now and seeing the other products that we offer,” Sheftel said. “With the summer coming, we anticipate it’s going to be really hot, and we’re putting in outdoor seating so people can sit and have some ice cream.” Though the renovations have boosted traffic, Sheftel’s customized orders for birthdays, parties and weddings still drive sales. The NoHo factory is known for taking outlandish orders – like assembling a 14-foot mockup of the Hollywood sign out of chocolate, or covering a Playboy bunny in chocolate to make a human candy bar. Just last year Sheftel and his family won the Guinness World Record for assembling the world’s largest 440-pound peanut butter cup. The factory is also known for its celebrity clientele, having made the wedding favors for the late Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, and the box of chocolates Tom Hanks gave out in the film “Forrest Gump.” As the upgrade brings in new patrons, Sheftel said he is considering further expansion in Southern California using the franchise model. At present he is looking into locations in Thousand Oaks and Orange County, and is considering charging a $90,000 franchise fee. “We had three stores at one time before in the 1990s in Encinitas and Las Vegas, as well as our current location. But we didn’t have control over those operations and both eventually closed,” he said. “The shop now has a look that can easily be duplicated, so if we want to franchise and put them across the country we can.” Shuttered Store The Valley’s only Kohl’s department store in West Hills officially closed June 19, according to a recent Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification report, a notice of layoffs companies file with the state. The closure follows Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl’s Corp.’s announcement in March that it would close 18 underperforming stores during the first half of the year. In addition to the West Hills store at 6651 N. Fallbrook Ave., a store in Arcadia was the only other Kohl’s location in L.A. County. Roughly 80 to 100 employees will be affected by the West Hills closure. Each employee will have the opportunity to receive a severance package or relocate to a nearby store, if eligible, according to the company. Kohl’s has 1,164 stores throughout the country in its existing portfolio; the closures represent less than 1 percent of its total sales. “While the decision to close stores is a difficult one, we evaluated all of the elements that contribute to making a store successful, and we were thoughtful and strategic in our approach. We are committed to leveraging our resources on our more productive assets,” Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s chief executive, said in a statement. The company also announced it will launch a smaller format of Kohl’s stores, seven of which will open throughout the country this year. In addition, the retailer is opening a dozen Fila shoe outlet stores nationwide. Of the 99 employees working at the West Hills location, 20 were sales associates and 15 were freight associates. Layoffs are permanent, according to the Workers Adjustment report. Staff Reporter Champaign Williams can be reached at 818-316-3121 or cwilliams@sfvbj.com.

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