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For more than three decades, Myzel’s Chocolate has served Midtown with a wide array of sweet treats and its old-world charm. Now, owner Kamila Myzel, is facing a debt crisis after struggling to keep her doors open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kamila emigrated from Poland under political asylum with her mother, Alina, in 1981. She worked at Cafe Geiger on 86th Street and a nearby candy store at Madison Avenue, where Jackie Kennedy Onassis popped in for chocolate chip cookies every day.
In 1990 she opened her 470-square-foot storefront at 140 W55th Street, which she ran with her mother, using her grandmother’s recipes, until her mother passed in 2015. Kamila still makes as much as possible by hand, including all of the baked goods. The shop is also known for its collection of licorice — over 130 types from all over the world, displayed in apothecary jars behind the chocolate counter.
Back in 2009, Kamila confided to the New York Times that her bills were keeping her up at night. “This is my scary part, what I’m afraid of now, which I never was before. Everything is going up, but how much can I raise prices on chocolate, on candy?” she said. In 2015 she told the Wall Street Journal that her “landlord just gave me such a hike in rent I don’t know how I’m going to make it.”
The pandemic has exacerbated these issues. Forced to pay rent throughout the past year, Kamila opened up the store every day but customers in the neighborhood have been few and far between.
“We are doing what we can to help this lovely woman who came here from Poland speaking no English. She is beloved by so many,” said Betsy Bober Polivy from Manhattan Sideways — a champion of New York’s small side street businesses. “I desperately want to help sweet, sweet Kamila, who only wants to sell chocolates and licorice while putting smiles on people’s faces. She is the real deal — her story should resonate with many and we cannot let these places disappear.”
A GoFundMe was started on Monday to help Kamila keep her doors open. At press time, it had raised $400 of its $99,000 goal.