Will host second networking event on 8/22.
BY JEN KHEDAROO
As the third family to own Aigner Chocolates in the last 90 years, owners Rachel Kellner and Mark Libertini have developed a close relationship with the Queens community.
In addition to selling various chocolates and coffee, the owners have opened up their shop to host various community events, such as special tours and networking events.
In June, Aigner Chocolates partnered with the Queens Chamber of Commerce for their first joint networking event. Since joining the chamber four years ago, the owners have wanted to collaborate on an event for fellow members.
The opportunity came when Thomas Santucci, chairman of the chamber’s Board of Directors, stopped by the chocolate shop on Easter.
“Tom Santucci comes every Easter with his family to pick up some chocolate on the way to their Easter meal, and Easter and Thanksgiving happens to be the only times that my husband and I work together at the front of the house,” Kellner said. “We were speaking with him and we mentioned how interested we were in hosting an event, and within 24 hours someone reached out to us from the Queens Chamber.”
Aigner Chocolates hosted the Chocolates, Cheese & Wine Networking Event, which included a tour of the chocolate kitchen as well as a demonstration of how Libertini made the shop’s famous Game of Thrones-themed chocolate dragons and dragon eggs.
“The event that we hosted went so well that within two days we already scheduled our next one,” said Kellner, adding that roughly 20 people attended the first chamber networking event.
“I really like the idea of the Queens Chamber helping their smaller members, like they did with our networking event,” Libertini said. “With any chamber, it’s easier to focus on your big-ticket members that have larger dues and tend to spend more money with the chamber, but for businesses like us, who love being members and give back but have limited resources, it’s great for the chamber to recognize us.
“This helps us out just as much as it helps the Queens Chamber,” he added.
The next networking event will take place on Thursday, August 22, at 8 p.m. Aigner Chocolates is located at 103-02 Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills.
“I’ve had several other businesses and I’ve always been a member of the Queens Chamber, it’s just a great way to network and have your finger on the pulse of Queens,” Libertini said. “We’ve given donations in the past and we like working with the Queens Chamber, but now I feel like the networking events have taken it to another level. We get to be a bit more intimate with the members and it’s a great way to align interests.”
Aigner Chocolates has teamed up with numerous local businesses since joining the chamber, like Maspeth Federal Savings. Aigner Chocolates made ice cream for the bank to serve at their summer concert series.
“As we’re a local business, we’re big proponents of supporting other local businesses,” Kellner said. “Being aligned with other Queens businesses that share the values that we do is really important.”
Chamber members frequently stop by the shop. Kellner and Libertini are planning on offering a discount for chamber members if they choose to do business with Aigner.
“Aigner Chocolates is one of the oldest chocolate shops in New York City,” Kellner said. “If it wasn’t for the support of the locals and Queens, we wouldn’t be here today. We feel privileged to carry on a rich tradition in Queens, so if there’s anyway we can give back, we try to do so.”
“We feel like most businesses have gifting needs at one point or another, and we think that chocolate is a great option,” Libertini said. “Chocolate makes a great impression, you can customize it and it shows that your supporting local businesses.”
They’re also considering starting classes at the shop.
“That’s something we’d love to extend to Queens Chamber members as part of the discount,” he added. “But that’s anywhere from six to twelve months away.”