Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Dessert Spot at Toffee to Go – Tampa, FL

Toffee to Go is a Tampa institution that’s been around for nearly 20 years. I had the privilege this week of having lunch with its founder and co-owner, Lisa Schalk, through my friend Rayla Bailey’s group On Fridays we Lunch. Rayla focuses on a different local female leader each month and arranges incredible lunches with young professionals to hear their success stories.

I already was very familiar with Toffee to Go - my mom worked there during one of their busy holiday seasons and the architecture firm I work for gave their gift boxes to clients last Christmas.  We had a million thank-you notes, so we’re planning to repeat the gifts again this year. I’d highly recommend it for corporate gifts since its so simple and it’s guaranteed to make everyone happy – all you need to do is give them your list of names & addresses and they do all the rest.

Lisa runs the company with her husband, Jim, whose family recipe inspired their business. At first they made it just as a gift for friends, but everyone was so impressed by the treats, they decided to start selling it. It started spreading by word of mouth, then Jim quit his job in the hotel industry to join Lisa in the toffee business full-time. 

They’ve grown from an in-home operation to now running a retail shop in Tampa and 16,000 square foot warehouse in St. Pete. Their product is so amazing that it even ended up on Oprah’s Favorite Things list!

The thing I’m most impressed by is that they have made enormous sacrifices to make their business a success. In the early years, Jim would travel for trade shows regularly, so they went 9 years straight without having a Thanksgiving together. They’ve had to turn down countless holiday parties because 80% of their business occurs in a 2-month window. 

Despite all the hard work, Lisa said that all the long hours are worth it because she loves what she does and it makes so many people happy.

This upcoming week they will launch their latest endeavor – The Dessert Spot at Toffee to Go! They’ve teamed up with other local small businesses so their Bay to Bay location will now offer Kahwa coffee, Working Cow ice cream, and Mike’s Pies. In addition, the shop will feature an assortment of decadent sweets by their pastry chef, Sharon Nasrallah, who previously was an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando. Their daughter, Courtney Schalk, will be the General Manager of The Dessert Spot.

I stopped by for a sneak preview this weekend. The shop has been completely renovated with beautiful high ceilings, wood-look tile floors, a new seating area, and large display cases showcasing all the treats.

I tried a coffee ice cream with chunks of their dark chocolate pecan toffee (I realized I devoured it so quickly I didn’t get a photo).  We also brought home the most gooey, delicious cake topped with chunks of toffee and a light, airy amaretto cookie. Everything looked amazing, so I’ll need to return soon to try more!

The Dessert Spot at Toffee to Go is located at 3251 W. Bay to Bay Boulvard, Tampa, FL 33629.  They officially open for business 10am on Monday, October 9th and will be open 10am – 9pm Monday through Thursday and 10am – 10pm on Fridays & Saturdays. Go check them out!