Forest Hills chocolate shop, a ‘community staple and treasure,’ celebrates 90th anniversary

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Photo courtesy of Aigner Chocolates

Forest Hills confectionary Aigner Chocolates, one of New York City’s oldest chocolate shops, marked 90 years in business on Sunday, Sept. 13, with an outdoor celebration next to the shop’s Metropolitan Avenue headquarters.

Mark Libertini and his wife Rachel Kellner, co-owners of Aigner Chocolates, were congratulated by Queens elected officials and dignitaries at the shop located at 103-02 Metropolitan Ave. 

“We feel honored to be able to continue the Aigners tradition and feel a unique sense of pride when we hear stories of customers who have been purchasing confections from us for their family celebrations for generations,” Libertini said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Aigner Chocolates has donated chocolate to frontline workers and communities throughout the Queens and Long Island area. They initiated the Rainbow Bunny Exchange which provided young New Yorkers an opportunity to feel more involved in supporting front line workers in the community. Kids were asked to draw rainbows, add a message of support, and drop them off at the shop in exchange for a free chocolate bunny pop. In two weeks, Aigner Chocolates collected over 300 drawings and donated them to Elmhurst Hospital’s Helping Healers Heal program.

“It is a privilege to be part of a New York City tradition. Mark and I feel honored to have met the Aigner family, and to be able to make chocolate and confections in the old world style. We love being part of the Forest Hills community and look forward to spreading joy with our chocolate in the years to come,” Kellner said. 

Aigner Chocolates, formerly known as Krauses Candy Kitchen, opened in 1930 and became a neighborhood institution in the Forest Hills community. During the early 1960s, the Aigner family bought the business and for three generations, they manufactured chocolate and candy in the same corner location on Metropolitan Avenue. During that time, they changed the name from Krauses Candy Kitchen to Aigner Chocolates. 

In 2015, Libertini and Kellner took over Aigner Chocolates continuing a rich family tradition by making chocolate and confections in the same old-world style. All of the chocolate is produced using antique equipment and recipes passed down through the generations. 

Queens elected officials applauded Libertini and Kellner for their amazing work giving back to the community.

“Aigner Chocolates has helped make Queens sweeter for 90 years and counting. Even in this challenging time for small businesses, Rachel and Mark have continued to give back to the borough by delivering chocolate to frontline workers and homebound seniors during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Senator John Liu said. “Thank you to Aigner Chocolates for your dedication to the community and for your delicious treats; and many congratulations on your 90th anniversary.”

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said they’re extremely grateful to have Libertini and Kellner as part of the community.

“It’s special when a local business takes ownership in our communities, and we certainly do not take it for granted,” Hevesi said. “Aigner’s quality cannot be matched, and what they have given back through philanthropy and community engagement is equally immeasurable. Rachel and Mark have done an incredible job keeping Aigner in the spirit of Forest Hills while making innovations to keep it going for the next 90 years.”

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz offered a sincere gratitude to Libertini and Kellner on continuing an “exceptional, traditional business.”

“Producing chocolates and candy of unsurpassed quality for 90 years, Aigner Chocolates, formerly Krause’s Candy Kitchen, is truly a Forest Hills community staple and treasure,” Koslowitz said. 

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, a Forest Hills native, described Aigner Chocolates as a “neighborhood treasure.” 

“I grew up going to Aigner Chocolates, known as Krause’s Candy Kitchen, when I was a kid,” Katz said. “Congratulations to Rachel Kellner and Mark Libertini for continuing this wonderful Queens business and keeping alive a tradition for making chocolate that brings joy to so many in the community.”