Ken Koury, The Nutty Chocolatier

Chocolate is without a doubt, my favourite food. I could eat it all day long, as much as possible. I’m sure it was part of the formula my parents fed me, when I was a baby. For that reason, I was pleased to be able to spend some time with Ken Koury, the man behind the Nutty Chocolatier organization.

I was not aware, there have been as many as ten stores, and currently the operation consists of half a dozen locations. Making weekly visits to the local store, I have always assumed that Ken, the force behind it, has been involved with chocolate his entire life. That however, is not the case.

Ken Koury was born in Kirkland Lake, which is about six hours north of here (North Bay is half way, in case your geography is a bit off). His father worked in the mines in the area, and his mom looked after Ken and his brothers and sisters. Ken’s grandparents immigrated to Montreal from Lebanon.

At the early age of six, Ken had a paper route and before he was in high school, he was pumping gas at a local station. When he was nine the family moved to Sudbury, which offered greater work opportunities for his father.

To make ends meet, Ken’s dad sold televisions and appliances part time and realized his selling skills were pretty good. An opportunity arose for the family to move to Toronto and Ken’s father began a successful career in real estate.

Sadly, Ken’s mother passed away just as Ken was finishing high school, but he persevered and upon graduation, attended York University. He then completed Teacher’s College and became a science, business and industrial arts teacher.

“My part time jobs at Loblaw and Sayvette gave me an appreciation for hard work. I focussed my classroom activities on a more creative process, something most teacher’s at the time were not doing.” I questioned Ken further. “In Industrial Arts, I would teach how a machine worked and let students create whatever project they wanted.” His comments took me back to the birdhouse I made in grade nine.

After fifteen years of teaching, Ken decided it was time for a change. Through his father’s real estate business, Ken was able to purchase a dilapidated house with only a few hundred dollars down. He fixed it up and rented it out. “It was a huge risk for the times, but I managed to get up to ten houses, and I was busier than ever.”

Ken married Joanne and they raised two sons. I asked him how he, managed to make his way to Port Perry. The story was quite interesting. “I used to get my hair cut at the Richmond-Adelaide centre in Toronto, by a guy named Rick McCoshen. He knew I was good at renovations and explained he was opening a barbershop in Port Perry (BarberRicks). He was also partnering with someone in a contracting business.” Ken paused, to reminisce. “Before I knew it, I was involved in the partnership and worked in a small office in Port Perry.”