Creating success is black and white (and some blue) for local entrepreneurs

It all started with not being able to find a favourite confectionery. Less than two years later, Jessica and Mike Fritz of Maritime Marzipan are launching not one, but two new businesses, bringing the total of their entrepreneurial efforts to four.

The Black and White Café and Island Flavours are now open at The Landing in St Peters Bay. Adding those two new businesses has meant a very busy spring for the couple.

Maritime Marzipan launched in late 2017, bringing their chocolate-covered almond-based treats to PEI. Working out of a small rented kitchen in St Peters, they created a variety of marzipan flavours and soon found retail locations across PEI to carry the line.

In the early winter of 2018, the decision to open their own seasonal retail spot in St Peters Bay was made, and by summer, the shop opened. They began selling their marzipan products, and Fritz Chocolates.

“Chocolate came in the summer of last year,” Jessica said. After customers began asking for chocolates at their shop, it was a natural progress to create a line of sweets without marzipan centres. “We’re making our treat [marzipan] with the same Belgian chocolate, so why not expand and do that?”

After speaking with customers, they also invested in a coffee machine, and began selling speciality coffees to accompany their sweets. This year that decision to serve espresso-based drinks resulted in the third business for the couple, The Black and White Café, opening in time for Canada Day. The cottage next to their shop became available for rent, and Jessica said, “We’re like, that’s the perfect spot for the coffee shop.”

Jessica is determined that the café become a spot for the local residents to hang out in, not just a tourist stop. Using repurposed furniture, recycled wood, and gallons of paint, the Fritzes have transformed the space with their blood, sweat, and tears into a cozy café, perfect for lingering.

“We’re envisioning a cozy hangout space,” Jessica said. “We’ve been welcomed into the community…we want to support that community, they’ve been great to us. We didn’t want it to be just for tourists.”

The menu will include pastries, muffins, and baked goods for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. She is determined to use as many local ingredients as possible, from Receiver Coffee and Sip T from Samuel’s in Summerside, to sourdough bread from True Loaf, and gouda from Glasgow Glen Farm.

As they were planning for the café and getting ready to renovate the space, the opportunity to rent an additional and adjacent cottage to their Maritime Marzipan shop came up. Rather than pass up the opportunity, they said yes to renting that space, and have another shop this summer called Island Flavours.

“We opened up the wall between the marzipan shop and the former soup and sandwich shop. It’s two separate shops, but if need be, we can have one person operate both,” Jessica explained. It will stock non-perishable Island food products, ranging from teas and coffees, to muffin and pancake mixes, spices, mustard, honey, and more. “I have to hold myself back,” Jessica joked as she talked about all the local products that are produced here on PEI.

These new projects come on the heels of a production facility expansion late last year. In September 2018, Maritime Marzipan was a recipient of the Ignition Fund, a PEI government grant program. That allowed the company to move out of the shared kitchen they were renting and expand their production facility to a new location at the old school in St Peters called The Complex.

Mike planned the layout and tailored the new facility to his needs, doing all the work himself. With that expansion, has come increased production volume and the duo are in the midst of working with a regional retailer to get their marzipan and chocolates into the hands of more customers. They’ve gone from doing all the work themselves to being able to hire one full-time and six part-time employees.

With Fritz Chocolates, they can print custom logos or type on chocolates, and already have some customers who are taking advantage of a sweet treat that can serve as advertising.

But wait—there’s more on the horizon for the entrepreneurs. When the announcement was made that the Founders’ Hall and Food Market would be opening, they jumped on board and Maritime Marzipan will have a stall at that location this summer as well.

This spring the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce recognized the couple’s hard work and awarded them the “Emerging Growth Potential Award”. It’s not hard to see why.

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

View All Posts