Rockland-based Bixby & Co. used grants and loans to upgrade its equipment in 2014, improvements that more than tripled the candy bar company's efficiency. Credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Rau Photography

ROCKLAND, Maine ― Rockland-based chocolate company Bixby and Co. plans to open a retail shop and cafe on Main Street in Waterville next spring in a building owned by Colby College.

It will be Bixby and Co.’s first brick-and-mortar expansion outside of its chocolate factory downtown. Waterville is a prime location because of ongoing revitalization efforts there, which include a $20 million commitment from Colby College and the Harold Alfond Foundation.

“The commitment and leadership in driving economic development in Waterville are truly remarkable, and we’re very much looking forward to being a part of and supporting this exciting momentum,” said Kate McAleer, founder and CEO of Bixby and Co.

McAleer founded Bixby and Co. with her mother in 2011 and opened the Rockland chocolate factory in 2013. The company produces premium chocolate bars made with organic or natural ingredients that include nuts, dried fruit and spices.

Bixby and Co.’s chocolate bars are sold in specialty stores across the country.

The Waterville shop and cafe will feature Bixby and Co.’s chocolate products, along with gelato, espresso drinks and pastries. The cafe will have a small seating area and an interactive chocolate bar where patrons can learn about how Bixby and Co.’s chocolate is sourced and created.

“Bixby & Co. is an innovative, Maine-based company whose premium chocolates are distributed nationally in leading specialty stores and grocery chains,” said Brian Clark, vice president of planning at Colby. “When Bixby was considering where to locate its first brick-and-mortar expansion, they received universal feedback that they needed to be in Waterville, where they saw opportunity to be a part of a growing and diverse culinary destination.”

The new shop will be located at 173 Main St. in Waterville, the former home of the Waterville Savings Bank, built in 1903. The building was renovated by Colby College in 2017. Other occupants of the building include Portland Pie Co., a technology firm and Colby administrative offices. With the addition of Bixby and Co.,the building will be fully occupied for the first time in 25 years.