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Kilwins will be open 63 hours straight for Valentine’s Day

Murray-Kilwins1

A thousand apples. Six hundred pounds of fudge. Eight hundred pounds of strawberries.

They’re not throwing a party for the whole town. 

The staffers at Kilwins in Patchogue and Babylon are just readying for Valentines’ Day, their biggest day of the year.

Actually, they’re stocking up — and getting mentally prepared — for the whole weekend, when both stores will be open from 5 a.m. Friday through 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14.

That’s 63 hours straight, or 126 total hours, of making and serving up fudge, chocolate and ice cream. And it could be more hours if it’s still busy Sunday night.

“If we’re busy I’m not going to throw anyone out, but I might die,” joked John Murray, who opened a Kilwins in Babylon in April 2012 and another in Patchogue this December.

2016 will mark the third year Murray is keeping a store open through the morning hours — with last year attracting the attention of News 12 Long Island.

But 63 hours will be a record for him.

He and his employees said the shop was busy around-the-clock in 2014, but the Channel 12 attention put sales over the top last year.

The news crews shot live from Babylon Village starting at 5 a.m. last Feb. 13.

“Who’s up at 5 a.m.? The world is up,” Murray said. “And they all came to the store.”

“I was supposed to go home at 8 a.m.,” said Kilwins employee John Kupres. “I didn’t get home until 8 p.m. There was just too many people there. I couldn’t leave; even if I wanted to, I couldn’t get out the front door.”

Expecting television attention again next weekend — this time in Patchogue Village — Murray and his 30 employees aren’t taking any chances.

They’ve been stocking up on fruit, pretzels, marshmallows and raw materials — and dipping, dipping, dipping.

“We’re mass producing like chocolate-covered everything” said employee Pat Delaney.

“250 of one thing,” added Kupres, “250 of another.”

All the preparation will allow the crews to focus on chocolate strawberries come Valentine’s Day weekend, since those need to be made almost to-order.

Teams will be doing 12 hours shifts together, with some help from Murray’s family members to keep the store open and the lines moving all that time.

What helps keep the energy and morale up — other than lots of coffee — is the customers, Murray said.

After all, it is a special occasion that will bring almost all of them into Kilwins those days.

“They’re so appreciate that we’re there” in the dead of night, Murray said. “The good will is unbelievable. Last year we had three NYPD detectives and officers come in. They had just gotten off their tours, got off the train, walked down and got some stuff before going home.”

“And think of the cook across the street at PeraBell, getting off late,” he said from the Patchogue shop. “These type of people love this.”

He has one repeat customer who goes from one job to the next before hitting up Kilwins before sunrise.

“He probably wants to sleep all day,” Murray said. “But he stops at my store, gets his wife chocolate and then it’s there waiting for her when she wakes up, even though he’s passed out from working.”

Murray got a taste of what that type of life is like these past two Valentine’s Days.

“Last year, from Babylon to my house in Wantagh, my body was shutting down,” he said, assuring the staffing is more coordinated this year now that everyone knows what to expect. “But it’s out of control. People say it’s two or three days, but it’s every second of each one of those days.”

Even a year later, people will mention to a Kilwins staffers about seeing them on the news last year.

“Now we have no choice; we have do do this,” Murray said. “We’ll be doing this forever.”

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Top: Kilwins owner John Murray works on a batch of double dark chocolate fudge Wednesday night at the Patchogue store. (Michael White photo)

A still from the Kilwins Babylon security camera last Valentine's Day weekend.

A still from the Kilwins Babylon security camera last Valentine’s Day weekend.

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com