Since we turned our sights in January to getting our own space to create chocolate in Charlotte it’s been quite a ride. Our plans have been approved by mentors around the city, we hunted with the The Nichols Company for a space and are now working with architects Bryan & Jen Shields to design the shop. With any luck we’ll be bringing on Clay Gordon of The Chocolate Life (and author of Discover Chocolate) to help consult us through this new stage of development.
Other Chocolate Shops
Robin and I recently returned from a trip to Seattle & Alaska. Whenever we are away we try to visit other chocolate shops to get an idea of what everyone else is doing. Unlike the massive coffee industry there are only about 1000 chocolate shops in the US. That means it’s a lot harder to find others trying to do what you want to do. We visited Dilettante Chocolates, Frans Chocolate, and a confectionary shop in Ketchikan, AK. It was great to see the varied differences and a few shared similarities. I wish we had more time to visit the few others that were in the area but our time was meant for a family reunion.
Standing On the Shoulders of Our Peers
The shops we visited gave us some ideas and confirmed others we’ve been thinking. We’re also a hybrid of chocolate and a bit of bakery so we’ve yet to really find a match like ours–which has it’s good and bad connotations.
When we spoke to our architects about our plans we wanted to bring a bit of the secret, and a bit of the transparency to bear. We described ample display cases and frosted glass separations between the front of the house and back. A place for consultations–to sit and discuss a cake or custom creation.
Being that we all co-locate and the administration of the business can float–instead of a classic office we’re looking more for a co-working nook.
All the while we want a very open and easy to navigate or reconfigure kitchen. Chef Bill has instructed us on the finer points of kitchen control by having as little built-in as possible and more mobile/castered equipment.
More Work Ahead
Considering all we’ve done I still feel we are at the base of the mountain to be scaled. This is all planning and aligning. Funding and executing it all will be the feat of all feats. Regardless, we are all so excited to move forward!
What would you like to see in a chocolate shop? Do you have any aspirations for our growth?