Kensington chocolate maker reopens in time for Easter

KENSINGTON - April 18, 2014

Customers lined up Friday morning outside the Blasius Chocolate Factory on the 1800 block of East Venango Street.

The Department of Revenue shuttered the factory on Wednesday. At that time Action News spoke to the owner, Philip Kerwick, who admitted he had racked up a $12,000 delinquent tax bill. "These last four days make or break me. I don't think I will be able to survive this year," he said.

"I have been in a dispute with this city for years. We are only open six months out of the year and they will not give me a determination how the use and occupancy tax applies to me when I'm not open," he said.

Kerwick says he's tried to negotiate with the City's Department of Revenue in the past few months while dealing with an illness.

Mayor Michael Nutter's office says Kerwick has broken agreements and was given several warnings last year.

However, since Wednesday Kerwick was able to pay part of the tax bill and today they're back in business.

"All we try to do is get what is fairly owed to the taxpayers collected and we were serious about it," said Everett Gillson, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor.

The Blasius factory has been hand-making chocolates since the 1920's. The business has had different locations over its 88 year history but those who love the old fashioned, handmade candy always find them.

"It's tradition. We have relatives in Maryland and New York and every year we buy Easter candy for them," said Maureen Galliano.

The city's move to shut down operations at Blasius was part of an aggressive tax collection program. Over the past year, the city says it has collected $17 million in delinquent taxes from 700 different businesses.

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