A Bixby Chocolate sign in the window of 173 Main St., where the company had previously been planning to open a location in downtown Waterville. The company will instead open a location at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, which is under construction just a short walk down the street. Kaitlyn Budion/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — Bixby Chocolate will open an artisan café in Colby College’s Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street when the center opens.

Bixby, a chocolate-confections company based in Rockland, will offer chocolate confections, grab-and-go options and various chocolate drinks at the café location.

“Having a presence there is a golden opportunity for our company, and we’re truly looking forward to serving the visitors of this inspiring forum for enjoying the arts,” said Kate McAleer, founder and CEO of Bixby Chocolate, in a statement.

When first looking into opening a location in Waterville with Colby, Bixby considered a location in the center, but decided to go with a location at 173 Main St. — a property also owned by Colby.

The company had hoped to open the location quickly, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed that plan down, and made the Schupf Art Center location that much more feasible.

“We were anxious to get to Waterville, which is why we decided on 173 Main St., but then the pandemic hit,” McAleer said. “Given how the art center has broken ground and is well underway, locating there is a much more doable option now than it was a year and a half ago.”


An architect’s rendering of the Paul J. Schupf Art Center coming to 93 Main St. in downtown Waterville. Courtesy of Susan T. Rodriguez Architecture • Design, New York City

A family-run business, Bixby is the state’s first and only “bean-to-bar” chocolate company, focused on supporting cacao-growing communities and using ethically-sourced chocolate.

It is one of 12 certified women-owned business in Maine, and offers gluten-free and kosher confections, as well as several vegan options.

Bixby also recently won “Greenlight Maine,” the statewide business reality TV show competition hosted on Maine Public Television. The $25,000 cash prize from the competition will be used to purchase equipment that will expand the company’s manufacturing capacity.

“The pandemic was tough on so many businesses and really changed everything, but as we started to emerge from it there was an opportunity to become involved with the Schupf Art Center, and from a business strategy perspective it made a lot of sense,” McAleer said.

The art center is a collaboration between Colby and Waterville Creates, a nonprofit organization that supports the arts in Waterville. The building itself will connect with the Waterville Opera House and is expected to be completed in late 2022.

The location will be the new home for Waterville Creates and the Maine Film Center, which will operate three cinemas. It will also include the Ticonic Gallery and Studios, and the Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art, an extension of the Colby College Museum of Art.

The construction site for the Paul J. Schupf Art Center on Main Street in Waterville on Friday. Bixby Chocolate had planned to open a location at 173 Main St., but will instead open at the art center. Kaitlyn Budion/Morning Sentinel

The building is part of the $175 million revitalization project in downtown Waterville, an effort that has been driven by Colby and a series of public and private investments. Other components include the Lockwood Hotel, Front and Main, the Arts Collaborative and the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.

“We are so pleased to welcome Bixby to the Schupf Art Center,” said Brian Clark, vice president of planning at Colby College. “Their customer and community focus along with their deep commitment to Maine make them the perfect fit. Bixby is arguably one of the best artisanal chocolatiers in the country, and there’s no question that they’ll play an important role in adding to the city’s growing identity as a destination for great food, art and culture.”

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