FishHawk Residents Fulfill Dream By Opening Chocolate Shop In Valrico

By Jennifer Silverstein
When Anthony and Leena Caliguire moved to FishHawk from New York five years ago in July of 2004, they experienced a very unusual hurricane season where four hurricanes and one tropical storm ravaged the state. What a welcome to Florida!The couple recently opened The Original Leena’s Chocolates in the old 1,100-sq.-ft. Peterbrooke spot in the Lithia Crossings Plaza. It has redesigned the inside of the shop to have more of a “warm” feeling, which Anthony says reflects his wife’s personality. It will have a sports-themed area within the store, where chocolate basketballs, footballs, golf bags and more will be showcased. It will also have a “green” chocolates display with chocolate grown in environmentally-friendly ways, packaged in edible or biodegradable materials. In the middle of the store will be a “featured” table with seasonal and/or holiday items displayed on it. Currently, it is offering chocolate-covered Oreos with a pumpkin design and a cornucopia filled with truffles. Other delicacies it will be offering in-store include apples covered in caramel, nuts and either white, dark or milk chocolate, truffles, chocolate raviolis, chocolate-covered strawberries and a variety of barks, which will include a peanut butter bark with Rice Krispies, a recipe developed by one of the Caliguire’s three children, two of whom attend FishHawk Creek Elementary and one attends Randall Middle School. It will also be popping fresh popcorn in-store and drizzling chocolate over that as well. Most of the items at The Original Leena’s Chocolates range in the $15-$20 range; more ornate items, such as the footballs and basketballs, are more expensive due to their being more ornate. As if there weren’t enough chocolate-covered goodness in this store already, Anthony and Leena have partnered with Linda Wright at Cork & Olive to dip wine bottles in chocolate. Willy Wonka will be at the Original Leena’s Chocolates the weekends of October 17, 24 and 31, from 12 Noon-1 p.m. Free chocolates and samples will be available. The Original Leena’s Chocolates is located at 3476 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Valrico and is open Monday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sundays by appointment only. For more information, please call 643-8500.