Peace by Chocolate is opening its first chocolate boutique in Halifax this Friday.
After more than four years of operating outside of Antigonish, owner Tareq Hadhad says his family is honoured and proud to open its first grand boutique at the new Queen’s Marque complex.
“It’s been a long way. It’s been a really interesting journey for our family and honestly we are so excited,” says Hadhad.
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, Hadhad says it’s a bit disappointing to not have a big ribbon-cutting event but the family will have one once it’s safer to do so.
“Here we are, many businesses have sacrificed much more than us and we are just so proud to be where we are today.”
Hadhad’s family made chocolates in Syria for more than 20 years, but their factory was destroyed in a bombing that forced them to leave the country. Before they arrived in Canada, they lived in a refugee camp in Lebanon.
Peace by Chocolate opened for business in 2016, and it gained worldwide attention after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the company a shout-out at the United Nations summit on refugees that year.
“Just eight months after arriving in Canada, the family realized their dream and opened a small chocolate factory in their new hometown. It’s called Peace by Chocolate. And you can follow them on Facebook,” Trudeau told world leaders in New York.
The demand for business grew, allowing the Hadhads to sell their chocolate across Canada and, through the power of the internet, to the entire world.
Peace by Chocolate operates from a factory in Antigonish. Hadhad says it’s been a longstanding goal to have a spot that carries all of their products.
The boutique in the Queen’s Marque complex will do just that.
“We have around 60 products that we produce in the factory, that we want to really have a location that offers all of these different chocolate bars.”
The selection includes celebration chocolates, peace bars, forgiveness bars and various chocolate assortment boxes.
“There are limitless opportunities and chances that we can really play with whatever our expertise and our talents that we brought from Syria, to make in Antigonish,” Hadhad says.
“We wanted to have a location in downtown Halifax to represent the brand that speaks highly to the people of Halifax.
“The highest support we get from across the country is certainly based here in the city.”
Hadhad says another reason for the launch of the boutique is wanting to expand its flavour selection.
“We are opening (Friday) with 40 new flavours of our artisanal chocolate.”
The new flavours will also include vegan and gluten-free chocolates.
“It’s not only about being inclusive in the products, it’s being inclusive in the flavours. We wanted to produce something that everyone can eat.”
Being at the Queen’s Marque, Hadhad says, is about being in the heart of downtown Halifax, “the capital of Nova Scotia, the province that welcomed our family with open arms and open hearts.”
Hadhad says the family is happy and honoured for this opportunity.
The interior of the Peace by Chocolate boutique was inspired by the Hadhad family’s heritage, particularly, the grand teal archway.
“The arch came from our Syrian heritage and culture. It speaks highly to the ancient Damascus houses,” Hadhad says.
“My grandfather used to own a house in Damascus that had beautiful arches, but also had a fountain in the middle. The fountain, when you look at it, it’s pure water but it gets a light blue, teal and turquoise (tint) at some times, because of the flooring.
“The flooring was just these beautiful tiles that bring you comfort, tranquillity and peace.”
Hadhad says his family wanted to bring that piece of their heritage to Halifax.
“Diversity is so important, not only in Nova Scotia, but across the country and the world.”
Peace by Chocolate is continuing to expand its business, but Hadhad says headquarters will remain in Antigonish.
— With files from Alexander Quon.