Malley’s Chocolates has been a family-owned and operated Cleveland business since its inception in 1935. The mastermind behind this Cleveland business was Albert “Mike” Malley. Malley decided to create his own American dream in the midst of the Great Depression. Mike Malley borrowed $500 to rent his first Malley’s Chocolates store at 13401 Madison Avenue in Lakewood. This was not only Mike Malley’s business venture; it was his wife Jo’s as well. They both made Malley’s an instant success.
Mike and Jo Malley, each played an integral role in the business’s success. Mike Malley bought all the supplies that he would need to make the chocolate because he had learned the ropes of the business as a child in Meadville, Pennsylvania, working at a chocolate store that sold hand-made chocolates. Jo Malley, on the other hand, ensured that all the bills were paid.
This tag-team approach to their new family business allowed the first Malley’s store to flourish. After fourteen years, Malley’s Chocolates moved its Lakewood store to 14822 Madison Avenue in 1949. It had the distinction of being the first all-aluminum retail store in America. This location was also a hit from the start, drawing so many opening-day customers that the Lakewood police had to be called to control the crowds. Clevelanders could not get enough of Malley’s sweet treats.
In 1967, Mike and Jo Malley’s son Bill took over the family business from his parents. Two years later he opened the third Malley’s store, located at Clague and Lorain Roads in North Olmsted, converting a former hardware store into the latest showcase for Malley’s delicious confections. This location added the now locally famous merry-go-round that patrons can eat on. This merry-go-round has excited its patrons for years and has made this location a favorite one for parties. To commemorate the merry-go-round, Bill Malley created the Carousel Sundae. He also devised the Sweet William Sundae after getting the idea from his son Bill Jr. Thanks to the success of the business, he had to move the factory and chocolate kitchen twice to larger venues.
The second of these, a 60,000-square-foot chocolate factory, is located in Brook Park off I-480. This move occurred in August of 1990. Drivers on the freeway can see the three “Malley” pink silos with large black letters that spell “Milk,” “Cocoa,” and “Sugar.” Each of the three silos are 88 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The silos originally belonged to Laich Industries Corp. and were created to hold 100,000 pounds of plastic pellets. However, after the manufacturer declared bankruptcy in 2005, Malley’s purchased the silos following an extensive search. The silos were originally supposed to be there for function; however, Malley’s decided not to install an underground vacuum pipe system that would extract the ingredients from the silos. Therefore, the company decided to turn the silos into a decorative advertisement of sorts. Malley’s hired a commercial sign painter to paint the white silos, which from the start was a difficult task. All the silos had to be painted pink before the black lettering was applied.
Today, Mike and Joe Malley’s grandchildren take on different roles to ensure the success of this family-owned and operated business: Dan Malley, Sis Malley, Bill Malley Jr., and Mike Malley. There are currently twenty-two stores and four of them operate as old-fashioned ice cream parlors. The four locations that serve ice cream are the Bay Village, North Olmsted, Lakewood, and Mentor locations. All their stores have the same glass panels and hand-painted walls that Bill Malley’s wife Adele Ryan Malley envisioned. Moreover, all the stores are painted in Malley’s classic pastel shades of green, white, and pink. If Cleveland natives have not visited Malley’s Chocolates, they have at least heard of this business through its ingenious marketing strategies. Many have spotted the airplanes in the sky towing aerial banners that advertise Malley’s products. Others may have also seen the oval “CHOC” stickers on the cars of Malley’s fans. This third-generation family business remains dedicated to satisfying Greater Cleveland’s sweet tooth.