New chocolatiers on KK
June 1, 2012
By Jill Rotherbueler Maher
A new store offering a broad selection of artisan chocolates has been doing a steady business since opening in May.
ChocoBella occupies the former Franklin’s Fine Chocolate at 2474 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. The products are made onsite from recipes crafted by owners Cindy Karrels and Luis Mendez.
The owners met and remain in contact with Franklin Di Vilio who created the original shop and its chocolates. He told them he had met other prospective operators but preferred that they take over the shop because of their professionalism and the personal connection they established with him. Mendez says he sometimes thinks of Di Vilio when developing a new piece and hopes he’d appreciate the creation.
Karrels has formal food industry training at the French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College in Chicago and has been employed in the food industry for about four years. The business partners met working at Nonna Bartolotta’s restaurant, and their lighthearted comments about owning a joint business “some day” have turned into reality.
“I love art and being creative, and I can incorporate that here,” Karrels said. “People like buying [our candy] and giving it away as gifts.”
Mendez is executive chef at Nonna Bartolotta’s and Pizzeria Piccola, both located in Mitchell International Airport. He got his start in the business at age 15, helping his father make candy and working in his retail candy store in Puerto Rico.
Karrels and Mendez find their triple chocolate pretzels are especially appealing to kids and have already noticed that Bay View adults are often chatty and are fond of unique offerings like dainty limon (lemon) dreams and conos de vino (cone-shaped red wine-flavored pieces). Some offerings with Puerto Rican influences include the guava with cheese piece, mandarin orange piece, and coconut truffle. The chocolatiers have dedicated considerable shelf space to their globe-shaped truffles, currently offering 11 varieties for $1.65 per piece.
Per-piece prices range from $1.15 for caramel drops to $1.75 for pieces like banana peanut butter chocolates.
Mendez says their per-piece pricing is intended to be less intimidating than a heftier per-pound price.
They buy some ingredients from local suppliers including The Spice House. The chocolate they use is from Belgium.
ChocoBella will offer gelato in summer and caramel apples in autumn to try to keep customers interested, and the owners intend to keep regular hours year-round. Gift cards are available in any denomination. Customers can walk up or use on-street parking. Karrels and Mendez are considering obtaining a loading zone area for customers.
2474 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Mon Closed; Tu thru Sat 10am-7pm
(414) 747-9007 + Facebook
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