YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Gorant Chocolates has been purchased by Valley businesspeople Bergen Giordani and Nino Rubino.
The 74-year-old company will continue with the same name and chocolate recipes, says Giordani.
Giordani is founder and co-owner of One Hot Cookie and OH Donut, which have multiple locations in the Mahoning Valley. Her business partner, Rubino, is a family medicine practitioner and partner at Poland Medical Center, and co-owner of OH Donut.
The new owners believe the purchase is a good fit for them.
“We’re always looking for new opportunities that make sense to our existing portfolio,” Giordani says.
She and Rubino had looked at the company in 2021 when it was first put up for sale but declined to make an offer at that time.
“We were approached again in the spring to purchase only the retail side and the website,” Giordani says, and eventually agreed to a sale. She did not disclose the terms.
Gorant had halted production at its Market Street plant in Boardman earlier this year in anticipation of the sale.
The new owners did not buy the production facility. They will instead contract out production to other makers using Gorant recipes and quality standards, Giordani says.
“The sale included the recipes,” she confirms, adding that the name of the company will not change.
Gorant has 10 to 15 employees, and all will be retained, Giordani says.
The previous owners of Gorant Chocolates, which include Joe Miller, could not be reached for comment.
Some big changes are coming.
The existing main store at 8301 Market St. will remain open for a few months. Then it will be replaced with a new store at 410 Boardman Poland Road, across U.S. 224 from the Shops at Boardman Park.
“It’s a more prominent location,” Giordani says. “We expect it to be open by Thanksgiving.”
The new location will be more than a retail store; it will include an area where guests can order a sweet treat and then sit down to enjoy it.
“If you go to Godiva chocolate, or the Hershey Chocolate store in New York, they have a bar where you can get a hot chocolate made with their chocolate, or ice cream,” Giordani says. “It will be a dessert bar.”
Baked goods from the new owners’ other companies, OH Donut and One Hot Cookie, will be available at the new Gorant chocolate café, she says.
The previous owners closed the company’s other retail store in Huntington Plaza on U.S. route 224 earlier this year.
Two other Gorant stores owned by licensees, in Austintown and Howland, will remain open and are not part of the sale announced today.
The new ownership company, called Youngstown Chocolate LLC, has a good working relationship with the two licensees and will work with them to make sure quality standards remain unchanged, according to Giordani.
Gorant Candies was founded in 1949 in Youngstown by brothers Sam and Charles Gorant, who made mints and other products in their basement and sold them door to door, according to the company’s website. The candies were sold in the Strouss’ and McKelvey’s department stores in downtown Youngstown, and later were introduced to the Cleveland area.
Charles Gorant sold the company in the early 1980s, four years after the death of Sam.