For the Tsoukatos clan, the only bond thicker than blood is one made of sweet, sweet chocolate. So when father George lost his job as a chocolatier in the mid-aughts, his three adult children rallied around him, determined to get him back in the kitchen.
Their gamble was bold: Zoe and her older brother Pantelis, both living and working Washington, D.C. at the time, quit their day jobs and moved back home to Waynesboro, Pa to set up what would become Zoe's Chocolate, along with younger brother Petros, in 2007.
From the jump, Zoe's Chocolate rode a wave of success, amassing celebrity clients like Martha Stewart and Anthony Bourdain, and garnering key placement for its specialty chocolates in high-end hotels, boutiques and even in the Emmy's and Grammy's gifting suites. But fatigue, coupled with a refusal to innovate their product line, led to a string of losses that eventually lost the company its biggest distributor, Whole Foods, and opened the door to mounting debt. "I think we were also kind of burned out," says Pantelis. "We were just not chasing it as hard. We kind of lost that drive a little bit. Cuz that's the hardest, maintaining the top level. Not just one or two years of being great."