A former Lawrence candymaker has resumed production at its new location in the Inland caves following a nearby fire that forced the business to shut down for several days.
Marcus Phillips, majority owner of Phillips Confections, said his was one of several businesses whose operations were interrupted by the fire, which burned in the caves for more than a week beginning in late December.
"We were unable to work until they let us back in," Phillips said, referring to firefighters.
Smoke from the fire, which was isolated in one part of the 140-acre complex, forced other businesses to shut down.
In October, Phillips and his partners moved the business to the caves from its former location in a converted stone barn at 512 E. Ninth. The company was unable to find adequate space for an expansion at a reasonable price in Lawrence, he said.
ONE FACTOR in company's overhead is utility costs because the work environment, where the company produces specialty chocolates such as truffles, must be adequately cooled.
Todd Jost, one of Phillips' partners, said this summer that not only was the caves' base temperature lower but that the owner of the complex had offered the company free utilities.
Phillips said today that the climate inside the caves also is maintained at 40 percent relative humidity, which aids the chocolate-making process.
Since moving, Phillips said the company has increased its production.
"In has increased our capacity, our mechanization. We just streamlined everything," he said.
Phillips founded the company about five years ago in a Lawrence apartment. It then was located until 1988 in the Bowersock Mill building. However, construction of the Riverfront Plaza forced Phillips to move, and the company was operating out of the East Ninth Street location until this fall.