The Gracie and Rachel chocolate bar. Photo courtesy of La Nef Chocolate

Dylan and Mandy Metrano, owners of the Bath-based candy shop La Nef Chocolate, got the idea after attending a concert of the band Big Thief in Rhode Island.

At the merch table, the opening act was selling small gourds with a Bandcamp album download code tied to the stem because they didn’t want to sell just a piece of paper.

“I thought that was the coolest thing,” Dylan Metrano said.

A chocolate bar might be even better, he thought.

Fast forward to 2023, and La Nef has now made nine themed candy bars after music albums, with a couple more coming in the next month or so. Each bar includes a code to download a digital album, and all of the musicians are given a share of proceeds.

“It was important to find a way to be able to support these bands in a way that streaming won’t,” Metrano said. “I think people are more interested when they see something unique on the merch table that they’re not gonna see elsewhere.”


The couple started La Nef on Monhegan Island in 2018. They moved to Bath in 2020 and converted their home’s garage into a commercial kitchen.

That’s where I sat recently with Dylan, feeling like the proverbial kid in a candy store, surrounded by chocolate in the Midcoast version of the Wonka factory.

Dylan Metrano of La Nef Chocolate in Bath. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

The Jukebox series was launched in 2019 and the first bar featured Metrano’s own longtime band Tiger Saw’s album “The Featherweight.” Bars sell for $10 and come with an album download code. All of them feature the album cover artwork.

Metrano’s been a musician for 30 years and knows many, including Jocelyn McKenzie of Brooklyn. Her “Push” album has a companion bar made with peaches, and it’s the best seller of the Jukebox ones.

McKenzie recently toured with Ani DiFranco, a tour that also included the duo Gracie and Rachel. They took one look at McKenzie’s bar and knew they wanted one. The Metranos made it happen quickly.

Soggy Po Boys chocolate bar. Photo courtesy of La Nef Chocolate

Other acts with chocolate bars are New Hampshire’s Soggy Po’ Boys and Kennbunkport’s Doctor Gasp (Dan Blakeslee).


Metrano said he and his wife got the name for their business from 17th century explorer Samuel de Champlain, who spotted Monhegan and from a distance thought it resembled a ship. He documented it in his journals as Isle La Nef. While the technical translation of nef is nave (church architectural term), the Metranos adopted Champlain’s definition as a subtle homage to the place they called home for six years.

Before they opened their chocolate business, Dylan was working seasonally at an inn on Monhegan and managed a cafe. Mandy worked at the inn, too, and was a school teacher.

“We were looking for something that we could do year round that would appeal to the tourist economy out there,” Dylan said. Inspired by the success of the Monhegan Brewing Company and Monhegan Coffee Roasters, they landed on chocolate because they had a feeling it would appeal to a lot of people and would fill a hole that wasn’t already being filled.

They were right.

But they had no idea how to make chocolate and had to learn everything.

“It wasn’t overwhelming because we took our time with it,” explained Metrano. The couple started their education with an online course to learn the fundamentals. “But a lot of it was just through doing it.”


Metrano also credits a few local mentors who helped with troubleshooting.

“People were so generous with their knowledge, they were so open,” he said.

The first La Nef wholesale customer was the Barnacle Cafe, which purchased truffles. Bars soon followed and were sold at a few spots on the island. They also partnered with the Monhegan Museum of Art & History, and the labels featured artwork from several of the artists whose work is displayed there. One features the artwork from late artist Ashley Bryan’s book “Beautiful Blackbird.”

In fact, each La Nef chocolate bar has a visually lush label because the Metranos wanted their bars to stand out.

“We’re both artists and art lovers and we knew that we wanted to have something that was really high quality packaging and visually striking,” Dylan said.

You can purchase La Nef Chocolate at The candy is sold in Maine and beyond, but you can pick up their bars locally at places like LeRoux Kitchen and Old Port Candy Co. in Portland, as well as Treats in Wiscassett, Vessel & Vine in Brunswick and Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine in Bath.

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