Have you ever wanted to walk in the shoes of another person for the day? “Hey Suz, Walk in My Shoes” a blog series I started to follow different business owners and people of interest around for the day to learn what it’s REALLY like behind the scenes.
Chocolate Lover's Club Princeton- Joanne Reilly
Thursday January 17, 2013
Today I took out my comfortable Uggs and joined the owner of Chocolate Lover's Club Princeton, Joanne Reilly, for a delicious and educational experience!
Joanne was born and raised in Canada until the 10th grade when she moved to New Jersey. After high school, Joanne attended Middlesex and Douglass College and majored in Allied Health. She worked as a dental hygienist for many years, but like many women after having children she wanted something with more flexibility. Having obtained a part time job at Johnson and Johnson specializing in corporate health care she relocated her family to Southern California. The job allowed her flexibility in setting her own schedule. The only drawback was the job evolved where more travel became required. She eventually moved back to New Jersey and she started a "cakes by mail" business out of Trenton. Then she started to buy chocolate in bulk and she sold it in her store. Remarkably the candy side of the business took off more than the cakes.
Joanne loved the creativity in making chocolates. She took chocolate making classes and attended various trade shows. Through trial and error and as her business plan evolved Joanne has moved her store a few times. She realized that if she was going to be successful with this business she needed a store that provided not only a storefront for selling chocolates, but a full kitchen as well as a party room to host her events. Recently she opened her new location off of Route 206, next door to Lucy's Ravioli and across the street from Hesco Lighting. The new location provides all of the aforementioned.
My Walk Begins
Our day began with a tour of her store starting with the seating area where customers can enjoy their chocolates while reading a local newspaper. Additionally, in the front of the store are many display cases filled with various chocolates, chocolate dipped potato chips, chocolate dipped oreo's, cupcakes, toffee, triple dipped marshmallows and much more. There is a "tasting table" where you can sample some of their fine chocolates.
The back room is divided into a few different area's to make chocolates, bake cupcakes, truffle making, as well as a huge room upstairs that is used for their events. The store hosts events every weekend such as: Birthday Parties, Showers, Business Events, Chocolate Making Classes and more. The room can easily hold 40 people.
What sets this store apart from other chocolate stores is that they are "purists." They try not to alter the flavor by adding sugar and syrup. This is the new movement of chocolateers. Its a much healthier way to enjoy chocolates.
Additionally, they are also well known for their hot cocoa made six different ways (milk chocolate, 60% dark, 71% dark, 80% dark, cinnamon and ancho chile powder). You can pick your favorite or mix them up. You also have a choice of regular milk, skim milk, soy milk, rice milk or coconut milk. I had an opportunity to make a few cups for customers as well as enjoy a cup on my break. My cocoa of choice was 60% dark mixed with regular milk and I am sold. It was quite possibly the best cup of cocoa that I have ever had. It was frothy, hot, chocolaty and delicious!
Does the Shoe Fit?
I learned today that being the owner of an chocolate store means standing on your feet a lot and long hours. It also means smelling delicious chocolate all day long! There are many conversations with customers about the different types of chocolate. Joanne is busy cleaning the store, setting up events, making chocolate, working on social media/marketing and scheduling employees. She wears many hats.
With that said, it's time to hang up my apron and "take off my shoes" so I can rest my feet! I truly enjoyed working side by side with Joanne at Chocolate Lover's Club Princeton. Thank you for indulging my senses and teaching me how to dip chocolates and make amazing hot cocoa.
I'm looking forward to stopping by this summer for frozen chocolate dipped bananas and Brazilian ice pops.
Written By: Suzanne O’Rourke