How One Small Business Found Sweet Success During the Pandemic

The three brothers gathered in their Bronx living room to talk through their options. It was approaching midnight at the end of another long day. They had devoted all of themselves to Sol Cacao, the chocolate bar business they had founded five years earlier. Now, on a May night in 2020, two months into the pandemic, they were at a loss. They went around the room, and none of them had anything positive to report.

“No one is reordering,” said Dominic Maloney. The oldest of the three brothers, he has a round face, a shaved head, and the most growly New York City accent of the three. He was 30 at the time of COVID. “No one is paying any invoices,” said Daniel Maloney. The businesses that were selling their bars—specialty stores, mainly, cheese shops and gift stores and other small retailers—were themselves in dire straits and holding on to what little money they might have. Daniel, the youngest, was twenty-seven and wore his hair in twists. The most talkative of the three, he served as the company’s de facto company spokesperson.
Sol Cacao had bills of their own that needed paying, including the rent. “The landlord gave us no relief,” said Nicholas Maloney, the middle brother. Like both his older and younger brother, he has an open, friendly face and a quick smile. He sometimes leaned back and closed his eyes when talking, or held his hands together as if in prayer to say thank you. “He’s the spiritual one,” his brothers said teasingly.

[Read More…]