In March 1991, Kennedys Fine Chocolates was created by the brother and sister team of David and Alison Kennedy in a small craft workshop, called Silver Yard, in Orton village in Cumbria.
In 1995 the business acquired the derelict former village school. After several months of refurbishment, the transformed Old School opened its doors for business in March 1996, selling the chocolates made at the back of the shop. A small coffee room served light refreshments for visitors.
In 1994, a contract with British Airways was won to make “The Concorde Selection” of chocolates – probably the first chocolates to travel faster than the speed of sound!
A conservatory style Coffee House, seating up to 40, was added in 2001 to cater for growing visitor numbers. Delicious home baking, homemade ice creams and homemade soups are a speciality.
Kennedys famous Old School chocolate factory is now a magnet for chocolate aficionados from near and far. Most of the chocolates made are sold at the factory shop and through mail order. Kennedys also supply chocolates to the renowned S Luca Ice Cream shops in Edinburgh. Several Cumbrian renowned eateries also serve the chocolates as their after-dinner petit-fours. They are Holbeck Ghyll Country House Hotel near Ambleside, Farlam Hall Country House Hotel, near Brampton, Carlisle and Temple Sowerby House Hotel between Penrith and Appleby.
From just David and Alison starting up in 1991, almost thirty local people are now employed. Over the years, Kennedys have supported local charities, local schools and local causes, and are keen recyclers. Although not Fair Trade – the chocolate used is obtained from two leading Belgian suppliers, both of whom have ethical policies against exploitation in the sourcing of cocoa products.
In September 2009, the company opened a second outlet in Appledore in Devon, called "The Appledore Chocolate Shop".