Blog

  • Retail Update: Let's Build It

    Construction at the shop. Door was moved about 5 feet to give us more room for food prep / tasting bar.

    A few weeks ago we posted an update on the progress of our retail shop. So much has happened since then! Whereas last update we were in planning mode, working out the conceptual pillars of the experience and layout, we are now in build mode. Things are getting DONE, and done fast.

    The Gist

    Approvals, Negotiations, Initial Permitting and Bids: Completed

    Funding: Completed!

    Moving the Fire Door: Completed

    Plumbing and Electrical Infrastructure: Completed

    Wall repair: In Progress

    Tile Installation and Paint: Pending Wall Repair

    Counter and Shelving Construction: Delayed

    Funding Update

    You all knocked it out of the park. The contributions from the community which totaled $20,150 became a $40,300 loan to us. We thought the max loan we could receive through this program was $36K, but when CSC saw how fast our project funded they extended the amount further. Unfortunately (and understandably) there was a lot of confusion about how this matching programmed worked, but hopefully it makes sense to everyone now.

    Thank you again, from the whole team. Now let’s put that capital to good use and build something cool!

    What We’re Thinking About Now

    Construction

    In the evenings after the kitchen closes Aaron and I walk the three blocks to the new retail store. So much happens every day there’s always something new and awesome to see: unidentifiable tools about the room, giant holes in the wall, plastic wrap on all the conduits, holes in the floor. In this regard it’s very strange for us to work with a general contractor. Since the founding of this business in 2006 everything has been entirely on our team’s shoulders to complete. It was inconceivable to pay someone else to manage a project and paint the walls! But we have the budget this time, we have a lot of trust in our general contractor, and it’s getting done right.

    Impressive set of construction tools. Is that considered a tool box or a mobile tool shed?

    Holes drilled into the floor to access the buildings water supply to install the scullery.

    Almost all of the infrastructure changes are complete. Plumbing is connected, electrical outlets are installed, and the fire door is moved to make room for the tasting bar. Now we are on to repair and finishing touches, and case work (counters and shelving).

    Cabinetry and Fabrication

    This has been tricky. Due to many circumstances out of anyone’s control, the person we had on deck to tackle this project isn’t able to. So last week we began our search again. The casework will likely be the bottleneck to opening our doors.

    Fortunately enough, we found both a fabricator and a builder. Both come with references and good prices. We are moving forward again, and feeling relieved.

    13' tasting bar top with some open shelving in the back.


    Sales counter top with 5' drop-in refrigerator display cutout.

    Above are the rough plans I put together just to start the conversation with the builder. If you are a professional, these will look like they were drawn by a five-year-old. *chuckle* We’re planning two large counter tops, one for tasting and the other for chocolate display and finalizing sales. The tasting bar is our baby, though. After working with the kind folks at Olson & Kundig to help us select materials, we eventually settled on steel plate. Steel is cold to the touch and a raw, sturdy material, and it looks stunning. It does come with a commitment to maintenance.
     
    Free Art Wall

    Example of a free art wall set up in Chicago.

    The west wall is where we can be really creative. Our plan is to construct a large scale “visual project”. We have a huge canvas (metaphorically), an opportunity to do something different and cool, take a risk.

    Ultimately we want this wall to be a forum where you can talk to us and to each other by sharing the experiences you have in the neighborhood and at the shop through a visual medium. So we are going to build a free art wall, with the theme being “Pioneer Square Stories”.

    The idea comes from a Kickstarter project from 2012. This project was well funded but ran into fulfillment issues, so I sadly never saw the blocks from my pledge. These fellows eventually went on to start the company Shinerphoto.  They sell these blocks, but we’ll be making our own. We feel ok mimicking the altruistic idea of the free art wall for the shop because it's about celebrating art and community, it will require a lot of donated time on our part, and it will be non-profit. This video from the original kickstarter project explains the idea best:

     

    We want you to share photos of your experiences at the shop or in Pioneer Square with us through social media. Then we’ll select a few that will go up on the wall. If you visit the shop, you’ll be invited to take one of the blocks for free if the image speaks to you, and we’ll replace it with a fresh and different photo block. If you can, you’re encouraged to donate the cost of the block (we think roughly $3 or $4), or more which will support the wall. Any extra at the end of the month will go to our partner and local non-profit homeless youth day art program called Sanctuary Art Center.

    Goal Open Doors Date

    All of this has to wrap up before the doors open. We’re aiming for the early side of May, but that might be optimistic with the counter tops just now being put together. We we have our fingers crossed. Can’t wait for you all to see it!

  • Retail Shop Update: Help Us Get Creative

    Ok, things are getting fun now. The enthusiasm we are getting from our customers, friends, and family is just amazing. It may seem like a small thing to you, but you help us feel more excited and less stressed, and that is invaluable. So, thank you.

    “What’s the news? Are you moved yet?”

    The Gist

    Two big questions we hear a lot these days. We could talk about it for hours and hours! *chuckle*. The short answer is, we have not opened yet, doesn't even feel close, so we are targeting the beginning of May. We aren’t moving, just opening a dedicated retail space and keeping the kitchen where it is. And there will be a little gathering / soft opening party. You’re all invited. Details to come.

    Landlord Application & Lease Negotiation: Completed

    General Contractor Interviews & Bid Negotiation: Completed

    Landlord Approval of Construction Plans: Completed

    Health Department Approval of Construction Plans: In Progress

    Construction: Pending Approvals

    Signage & Decoration: Pending Construction

    Opening: Pending Signage & Decoration


    What We’re Thinking About Now

    Our Funding goal maximum of $18k is close

    We feel flattered and humbled that so many of you are contributing to the build effort through Community Sourced Capital. Our minimum goal was $9K from our community to secure an $18K loan (Craft3 is matching dollar for dollar) and we smashed that target within a few days. WOW!  The best case scenario for us is to get to $18K raised from our community so we can secure a total loan of $36K. Two weeks in and we are currently at $15,250. Just $2,750 to go. That is so awesome. We know this isn’t a choice you are making out of fiscal wisdom, there is no financial gain on this loan, but instead because you believe and hope to see Intrigue succeed. You have our word, we’ll honor that and pay it back, and pay it forward.

    If you would still like to participate to get us to the $18K mark, you can do so at CommunitySourcedCapital.com. Thank you in advance!

    The Magic: Behind the Scenes

    Response from our regular hangout customers has been overwhelmingly positive, but also bittersweet. They understand the need to expand but don’t want to lose the behind the scenes feel. We don’t either. Keeping the conversational and personable experience is our top priority. We talk about it every day. We want to host you there and hope you’ll feel welcome, comfortable, and want to hang out with us and talk food and chocolate.

    However we won’t be hidden any more. Those that have ventured out to find us won’t be on the cutting edge of knowing someplace secret. But our goal is to make sure you will still want to bring guests to experience something special, unique, and different. That is scale-able for us as a business.

    How do we do that?

    Focus on the conversation: The majority of our investment will be invested in building a bar top where we can sample coffee, tea, and chocolate. It should be comfortable, and a pretty darn cool space to just hang out with us and chat about all the spices we’ll have there to see and smell and brew up into teas just for fun.

    Work space: Making teas and coffees is pretty simple and doesn't require much space, but all the pieces for a fully functional kitchen will be in place. Work will happen there, just not the whole process. Instead we’ll do some of the interesting and fun stuff together.

    Practical materials: An architect from Olson & Kundig said to us in passing that we should embrace the natural aesthetic of the materials best suited to do the job. Stainless steel isn’t always pretty, but it is functional and does have its own appeal. We aren't afraid of it not being "pretty" anymore. We think you, like us, prefer the beauty of raw industry and craft.

    Above you can see the scullery and work table on the left (east wall), behind the tasting bar. Windows and sales counter on the bottom (north facing) wall, and retail will be on the top and right (south and west) walls.

    The Devil is in the Details

    The basic layout is done, but now comes the tricky part: picking colors, materials, shelving patterns, lighting... It’s the fun stuff, right?!

    We could really use your help here. Tell us what you see for our space. Build us a pinterest board, link to websites in the comments. We want your feedback, and no idea is too strange or too dull or too outlandish. This is brainstorming and mood board time. You can post links here, or email me at karl@intriguechocolate.com.

  • Intrigue Chocolate Co. New Retail Shop

    We did it! We signed a lease on a new retail shop!

    The Intrigue Chocolate team is on cloud nine. It's not only a big step for the business, we also know an easier to find street-level shop means we will see many of you more frequently, and that's awesome.

    A fund raising campaign is up and running through Community Sourced Capital. Micro-loans of $50 or more are matched dollar for dollar, so your contributions have a significant impact. A bit more about CSC and our plan is on the campaign page. If you are able to and choose to help us with a micro-loan, you have our sincere gratitude!

    Improving the  Retail Experience

    If you've ever visited our current kitchen/retail workshop, you know it can be a bit difficult to find. The hallways and stairs to and from our door...um...have a lot of character. Those that make it to us are rewarded with a chocolate tasting, but we know we lose some folks along the way.

    The new retail shop is just east of the intersection of Jackson and Occidental. We'll join the walking avenue with other eateries such as London Plane, Bar Sajor, and Rain Shadow Meats, as well as the always active Starbucks, Cafe Umbria, and Zeitgeist Cafe. This is an up-and-coming section of Pioneer Square and our shop will have plenty of visibility.

    We hope this space will mimic some important elements from our "behind-the-scenes" converted kitchen experience that customers enjoy now. Namely, the conversational elements of the tasting flights, seeing and smelling the spices mixed into the chocolate, and the simple and welcoming aesthetic of practical materials. What we hope to add is an easier purchasing process and more retail display for fun items like flavored sugars, tea blends, and tempered chocolate bars.

    Last Thursday we had the fortune of hosting architects and interior designers from Olson & Kundig in our new space. They broke the box with cool ideas and vision for how a person can experience the space. Below are a few pictures before it really got packed in there.

     

    About Community Sourced Capital

    To accomplish the construction of our tasting bar, building a scullery, and painting the walls, we have enlisted the help of Community Sourced Capital. CSC helps small businesses acquire loans smaller than banks like to offer.

    CSC can offer us this smaller sized loan by aggregating micro-loans from you, our community, neighbors, friends, and family. CSC calls these loan segments “squares”, or $50 increments of the greater total loan. The minimum square is $50, the maximum being $1,000 per person. Every month CSC will work with us to review our profit numbers and determine a responsible payment back to the lenders based on our net profit, plus a $100 fee to CSC for the service and to encourage quick repayment.

    If you would like to help support this effort of ours, please check out the CSC campaign page here: http://csc.rocks/intriguechocolate. Thank you in advance!

     

  • Tea Blend in the Spirt of Valentine's Day

    Aaron was inspired to craft a tea blend to match the festivities here at the shop and we’d like to share it with you. You will receive a small packet of the tea with every chocolate purchase in the shop or online this week.

    We are however choosing not to call it “Valentine’s Day Tea”, because we know not everyone is a fan of the day *chuckle*. If that’s you, then you can instead think of this tea as a reminder that spring is just around the corner.

    So what’s in it? Dried rose petals and Darjeeling black tea. You’ll have enough tea for a small teapot. Just steep for 4 minutes in 24floz of 200F water.

    The clean, slightly floral base of the Darjeeling tea is nicely complimented by the unmistakable aroma of rose garden. That’s right! We promised you a rose garden.

  • New Items: Greeting Cards and Canvas Bags

    We are proud to announce two new items to the shopping cart: greeting cards, and logo'd canvas bags.

    The beautiful greeting cards are produced by photographer Charity Burggraaf, the same photographer responsible for all the professional looking photos on our website (some of them we've taken and attempted to mimic her style, like the bag below... we do ok, but Charity is better!). These cards are blank on the inside, so you can write what you wish. Or you can request we write something inside the card and one of us at Intrigue with good penmanship will put it together for you. You can see all seven styles of greeting card here.

    Canvas bags joined our line up as more of a necessity. Turns out large orders of chocolate really need a strong bag to help carry them home! The bags are 100% cotton, well constructed, and big enough to hold a couple one-gallon jugs. You can order your own canvas bags here for, well, all the obvious reasons you would want a canvas bag.

    The supplier and the screen printing is fulfilled by a local non-profit Sanctuary Arts Center which strives to serve homeless youth by providing a safe, warm place during the day where the youth can experience success through art. Screen printing allows SAC to fund part of the program while also providing internship and basic job skill learning opportunities to youth that qualify. We proudly support them!

Added to cart

c