Few things stay the same within our Mile Square for too long it seems. Every month a new fitness studio, a trendy boutique, or a swanky restaurant opening appears to happen, and often businesses come and go within in the blink of an eye. Yet a select few have been lucky enough to forge through and become a part of Hoboken’s DNA. Lepore’s Chocolates, located at 105 4th Street, is one of these establishments and it has provided local residents with delicious homemade chocolates for the past 40+ years. Read on for more about Lepore’s Chocolates.
The Story Behind Hoboken’s Most Famous Chocolatier
Owner Mario Lepore landed in the confectionery industry while attending college in London. During the summer months, Mario traveled to countries such as Holland, France, and Italy and worked at various bakeries as an apprentice, and learned the art of making chocolate. After college, Mario returned to Hoboken and began working as a travel agent in Manhattan. Feeling unsatisfied, Mario decided to leave the travel agency business and opened Lepore’s Chocolates in Hoboken in 1980 when he was just 27 years old.
The Chocolate Process
Mario makes all chocolate on the premises and can mold hundreds of chocolates in one day if need be. One of his favorite things to make are chocolate sculptures — whether it’s a set of miniature bunnies for Easter or a giant turkey for Thanksgiving — because they require a lot of attention and time. One giant chocolate Turkey can take up to eight hours to create!
^ Yes, that’d be a French Bulldog chocolate mold on the right. NBD.
The Busy Season
Mario’s busy season begins in October and doesn’t slow down until after Mother’s Day. Thanksgiving-themed orders tend to be “more personal” as he describes it, with lots of families requesting small chocolate turkey sculptures whereas Christmas generates more corporate and business orders, with requests for large amounts of chocolates for holiday parties and corporate gifts.
Yet, Lepore’s Chocolate’s busiest day of the year is Valentine’s Day. The shop receives a ton of “last-minute” business on Valentine’s Day from those who waited until the last minute to buy their special someone a gift.
Mario loves assisting his last-minute clients with choosing their own personalized assortment of chocolates, rather than them buying a box of pre-assorted chocolates from a mass merchandiser. He explains to us, “this is what makes Lepore’s different from the rest,” as he’s able to offer his clients exactly what they want, down to the flavor.
Throughout the year, Lepore’s receives many custom orders for small boxes of personalized chocolates to gift at weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and baptisms, which can be further personalized with gift boxes.
According to Mario, Lepore’s best-selling chocolates are chocolate-covered bacon, chocolate-covered potato chips, and Cap’n Crunch chocolate. But anything peanut-butter-filled is #1 in our book, and Lepore’s chocolate Oreos are *chef’s kiss* perfection.
To Mario, quality is the most important aspect of the chocolate-making process and attributes this to why he has been so successful. He prides himself on using the best ingredients, and prefers to work with Dutch chocolate as he believes it has “the perfect balance of creamy — with also a bite to it.”
Mario shared proudly that he absolutely loves making chocolate and has continued to do so for the past 38 years because it’s a “happy business” where he has total control and creative freedom to make whatever he wants. “I can create almost anything people ask for and that makes me proud.”
Lepore’s Chocolates’ normal business hours are from 11AM to 7PM, seven days a week (though once in a while we’ve seen it closed during those times — so make sure to double-check).