Norman Love Confections: Nothing Less Than Perfection
While his love of chocolate is what first inspired Norman Love to become a chocolatier, it’s his love for family that inspired him to establish roots in Southwest Florida. Many people are surprised to hear Norman Love say that he never intended to open a chocolate company, as he was only “dabbling” in chocolates to earn some extra money after leaving his job as executive pastry chef for The Ritz-Carlton to spend more time with family.
“As a young adult, I spent two years in France learning the craft of pastry-making from artisans who shaped their confections in a small pastry shop,” said Norman Love, CEO and Founder of Norman Love Confections. “The experience became the foundation for my career with The Ritz-Carlton, where I served as executive pastry chef in Naples and St. Louis. At 30, I became the corporate executive pastry chef of The Ritz-Carlton, a position I held for 13 years.”
While traveling around the world and entrenched in the industry that he loved, the chef says he was missing out on valuable time with family.
“My wife was raising our two kids without me, and I was missing out on all their school plays, soccer games and precious family moments. So in 2001, I made a very bold decision to leave the corporate world,” said Love.
Love started with just a small shop inside a friend’s medical supply business behind the current production facility.
“That’s where I began making ultra-premium artisan chocolates by hand for the wholesale industry,” he said. “Shortly after we opened, USA Today named us one of the ten best chocolate companies in the U.S. and people started driving around rural Fort Myers looking for a chocolate shop that didn’t really exist. That article quickly launched us into the retail arena.”
A year later, Love purchased the property in Fort Myers, built the original Chocolate Salon and soon added a production facility. Then in 2011, he opened a second location in Naples. That’s also when Love began making gelato at the Naples Chocolate and Dessert Salon, and the concept of Artisan Gelato by Norman Love was born. The gelatoria, located adjacent to the salon in Fort Myers, serves authentic, handmade artisan gelato with a Norman Love twist. In 2014, Love opened his third chocolate salon at Miromar Outlets in Estero.
In October 2016, Love celebrated 15 years in business and expanded again, with the opening of Norman Love Confections Chocolate and Dessert Salon in the Terra Design Center along the popular McGregor Boulevard corridor in Fort Myers.
With its contemporary design and comfortable seating areas, the new McGregor Boulevard location is designed to be a destination for special occasions and meetings, or just to relax with a cup of coffee and a bite to eat.
“Opening on the west side of town has been a long-term goal,” said Love. “For years, customers have been asking us to open a salon closer to the McGregor area. I’m pleased that our newest location allows us to better serve customers from Cape Coral, Sanibel Island and the communities and businesses near McGregor Boulevard and downtown Fort Myers.”
New salon offerings, available exclusively at McGregor, include locally produced craft beers, boutique wines and champagne. Artisan desserts and pastries, gourmet coffees, novelty products and Artisan Gelato by Norman Love are also available. The new salon is also introducing wine and chocolate pairings, wine and dessert pairings, special events and a Sunday brunch menu.
As Norman Love has expanded his retail locations, the company has also boomed online. Norman Love Confections ships its Signature Collections, Naked Love Cakes, and a variety of gift baskets, gift towers and specialty products throughout the U.S. The company has also enhanced its offerings to the business community with corporate gift-giving services and gourmet cakes, cookies and bakery platters for events and special occasions.
While traditional consumer demand has fueled the company’s growth, the Loves firmly believe it’s the support from the community that has led to their success.
“Yes, we are humbled to have earned tremendous national and international recognition, however it’s the local support for our chocolates and my family that we celebrate as our greatest achievement,” says Love. “”In fairly short order, the community embraced my family and our business, and that’s why giving back and supporting local charities is a priority for us. Southwest Florida is not just the location of our headquarters, it’s our community and our home.”
That community is also home to Norman Love Confections’ 80 employees.
“I’m proud to say that our team shares my dedication to the relentless pursuit of innovation and excellence, and we’ve been able to grow without compromising quality,” said Love. “Our business strategy is simple and straightforward. We come to work to be the best every day and to be better than we were yesterday. Our customers can look forward to many more exciting new developments to come.”