The Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory is planning its most significant expansion in its 25-year history, with renovations underway to build a rooftop bar and new freckle making experience room on the premises.
“It’s a really exciting period; it’s the biggest renovation we’ve ever undertaken and the biggest evolution of our product range and facilities,” sales and marketing manager Rhiannon Druce said.
“The rooftop bar will be a function space where you can have your 21st birthday party, wedding or Christmas party or just get your friends together and have an Aperol spritz on the deck.
“You can have those events now, but you’re in the thick of the regular trading, but there are those who want to be able to have their own space.”
Ms Druce said she didn’t have an opening date for the new facilities as yet, but expected them to be operational sometime in 2024.
The factory also has an extensive holiday program in place.
“We’ll be operating as usual all throughout the Christmas and new year period; the only day we’ll be closed is Christmas Day,” Ms Druce said.
“A highlight will be chocolate freckle making. There are no bookings for it; you just turn up anytime between 9 am and 3 pm and it’s $5 per plate.
“It’s always a fun, interactive experience; the kids normally love it. But there is no age restriction, anyone can do it; we know chocolate is loved by 98 per cent of the world’s population.
“We have lots on during the holidays; we have had wreath making classes and did a permanent jewellery making event last Sunday, where [Griffith’s Kristy Lee Agresta] welded jewellery onto your wrist.
“We’ve also done painting classes and we’ve got potential to do some more in the holiday period.
“There’ll be live music for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. We are happy to help people with their sore heads the next day.”
Ms Druce said orders for chocolate to be sent to people as gifts could still be made, though the cut off to guarantee delivery by Christmas Day had passed.
“We are express freighting chocolate; some people are ordering it and getting it the next day, but for some people it takes considerably longer.”
It’s been a volatile year for both the factory and Junee, with Rhiannon and her father Neil spearheading a community campaign against the closure of the last remaining bank in town. But it’s ended with some good news.
“The Commonwealth Bank are back to being open five days a week and they’ve opted to stay open until 2026,” Ms Druce said.
“There’s been financial unrest this year with inflation, and we really appreciate that people are still supporting small businesses over the larger corporations.”
Meanwhile, Rhiannon’s brother Dean Druce has launched a unique initiative regarding his store, Corowa Whisky and Chocolate.
“I have decided to allow five adults to visit my distillery,” he says. “These lucky five will be shown around personally by me and will learn all the secrets and magic of my distillery. Five golden tickets have been hidden inside five Dreaded Drop V boxes. These could be in any shop in any town in any country in the world. Good luck and happy hunting.”
If you find one, you can get in touch with Dean via his Facebook page.
The Junee Chocolate and Licorice Factory, at 45-61 Lord Street, Junee, is open seven days a week from 9 am to 4 pm, except for Christmas Day.