Blog

  • Retail Update: We’re Open!

    Storefront is open! Come check out the new space!

    157 S Jackson St
    Seattle, WA 98103

    Hours
    Mon - Fri: 10am - 7pm
    Sat: 10am - 6pm
    Sun: 11am - 6pm

    Yesterday we passed health inspection. Today we are soft opening. Other than getting signs in our window, every major task is complete. There are still a lot of small details to iron out, ways we can grow into the space to make it more friendly and inviting for you and to prepare for a grand opening in a couple weeks, but what we have now we are mighty proud to show off.

    If you’d like to read about the process to this point, check out the blog posts: Get Creative, Let’s Build It, Home Stretch, and Install and Inspect.

    Stikwood

    These reclaimed wood boards were a cinch to apply to the front of the bar. Mostly credit is due to our cabinetry builder, Brian, for his strict rules regarding level application. He was able to shape the wood to cover some really tricky spots seamlessly, like around electrical conduits and uneven floor tiles.

    After the wood went on, it became very apparent how similar the bar face is now to the color of the slate floor. A glossier finish to the floor would help to give the wood a better contrast. That might be a project we tackle in the near future since it is inexpensive and relatively easy to apply.

    Free Art Wall

    Blocks ended up being easy to produce. Aaron’s dad helped a lot, offering to cut the 4” x 4” wood blocks at his shop in MN and then ship them to us flat rate using the USPS. From there it’s a matter of spraying adhesive to the face of the wood and positioning the photo correctly.

    The concept is a “Free Art Wall”. That means you are encouraged to take a block (or several) with you if they speak to you. We suggest a donation of some kind to help the wall keep going.

    As you can see, there are a lot of open blocks on the wall. If you have pictures of Pioneer Square, Seattle, the North West, or chocolate that you think would make a good addition, then send them to us via twitter (@intriguechocola) or on instagram (@intrigue_chocolate_co). You can also just let us know what your instagram name is and give us permission to choose from what you have available. All the blocks have a photo credit on the back.

    Special thank you to the following instagram users that helped fill the wall thus far!

    @barbievanhorn
    @coltercousa
    @eluvs
    @esmithmerc
    @grubedoo
    @mnschneider
    @mr_kiana
    @ryandeanposey
    @saffrongal

     

    What we’re thinking about now

    Fill Shelves and Displays

    Last night we filled the shelves with product, dishes, and spices. There is still quite a bit of space we can fill and that is good, we have a lot planned. Look forward to flavored sugars, infused honeys, tea mixes, and origin chocolates.

    Signage

    We are still waiting to hear from the preservation board for the signage we’d like approved, and we have our sign artist. Then we’ll need to pick up a few permits from the city before application. Signage was really delayed in this process. That’s our fault for underestimating the number of department s that need to weigh in, as well as the very specific details they require.

    You!

    Please do come on by, check out the space, and taste some chocolates. We are planning to have a few extra goodies there for you, too, so don’t be shy!

     

  • Retail Update: Install and Inspect

    Of all the updates on progress we’ve given so far (Get Creative, Let’s Build It, and Home Stretch) this one is certainly the most visually dramatically. Shelving and counter tops arrived and are installed, refrigerators came out of their crates and are in position, lighting fixtures are hooked up. It's really coming together!

    Status Update:

    Approvals, Negotiations, Initial Permitting, and Bids: Completed

    Funding: Completed

    Moving the Fire Door & Wall Repair: Completed

    Plumbing and Electrical Infrastructure: Completed

    Tiling and Paint: Completed

    Counter and Shelving Construction & Installation: Completed

    Signage: Delayed (incomplete application)

    Final Inspections: Pending

    Opening: Pending Inspections

    Seattle Times & Community Source Capital

    Before we dive into the construction progress, we want to call out the wonderful article written about Community Sourced Capital in the Seattle Times recently. We were fortunate enough to be included as the example company. Thank you CSC!

    We’re also being invited to participate in some other cool co-ops with CSC, as seen here with Aaron being interviewed. It’s opportunities like these that were afforded to us because of your help and contributions. Thank you again.

    Scullery and Kitchen Shelving

    With the tile wall completed, the plumber was able to install the sinks and water heater, piecing everything together like a careful game of Tetris. The entire scullery now fits within half the back wall and includes a prep sink (with indirect drain), hand washing sink, three basin sink, mop sink (filled via the indirect drain), an oversize grease trap, and on-demand water heater, all surrounded by washable surfaces.

    The other contractors went to work drilling in the stainless steel shelving. It broke our hearts to hear that drill piercing the beautiful tile that was just installed, but the results were well worth it! Soon those shelves will be filled with spices in fancy jars and colorful dishware for serving teas and coffees to pair with the chocolate.

    Pipe Shelving

    Aaron’s dad, John, was in town for a week and graciously agreed to help us a few important details. The big task we tackled was building the pipe shelving, which we couldn’t have done without John’s help. A day or so of design and talking through how far the shelving should reach into the room, another day of purchasing supplies from the hardware store and cleaning the grease off the black iron pipes, and then a day to install. A very fun project to the end.

    We choose to use untreated 12’ planks of wood to get shelving in as quickly as possible. Eventually we will come around to those planks again an update with something that’s received a bit more tender loving care.

    Bar tops

    Soon after the shelves went up we started receiving the big shipments and it became really messy again. It was good we scheduled them all to arrive around the same time, after the general contractor was done painting and repairing, because these monsters were not only extremely heavy but took up a lot of space. You can see the under-counter fridge on the bottom right of the image above, just in front of all the cabinet boxes that would become the sales counter and tasting bar.

    The sales counter is 10’ long, and the bar top 13’ long, and weigh around 150 – 200 lbs respectively. Getting them through the door was a team effort.

    Unfortunately during shipping there was a bit of damage. The marking above that looks like moisture is abrasion from the metal straps that were used to secure the top to the truck bed. It was secured so tightly that the mill scale wore away in some spots. With the metal being so stunning and beautiful, it was hugely disappointing to see so much wear and tear in transit. But at the end of the day, we are embracing raw and functional materials for their natural aesthetic. That aesthetic includes the character they will accumulate over time and we are choosing to celebrate it. Wear and tear is also beautiful.

    This week our builder came out to help install the boxes, set the counter tops, and install the fridge. Above is Aaron leaning over the sales counter to inspect the gap between the steel and the hand railing.

    Time to un-crate the display fridge! This was, by far, the heaviest single element in the shop due to the large areas of glass and mechanical compressors, totaling just under 400 lbs. With a lot of help we got it up onto the counter and dropped into the counter top without losing any fingers in the process.

    What we’re thinking about now:

    Inspections

    Health inspection happens tomorrow morning. The health department is notoriously strict, and it’s many hundred dollars to have them come out to do a second inspection if you fail the first time. This is a biggie. We followed our plan, though, so we are feeling more urgency to be prepared than anything else.

    Plumbing is all wrapped up. The building inspection had a few tweaks requested but nothing to prevent opening. Electrical will be completed soon.

    Fire inspection requires an alarm test. Unfortunately the first opportunity to do so is next Tuesday, May 19th.

    DPD will need these things before inspecting the structure. This means we’ll slip on the opening date just a bit, maybe until Wednesday the 20th. Hopefully we can wrangle that date in a bit. We'll see.

    Signage

    We were, however, given an “incomplete” status on our application for signage which will eventually go before the neighborhood historic preservation board. This is hugely frustrating. We feel our asks are very minor, put together a professional and clear application, waited a month before hearing anything, then asked to update the application with more requests (paint samples, wet signatures instead of electronic as if these are highly sensitive legal documents), and wait again. We’ll deal with it and open without signage.

    Stikwood

    Tonight we’ll be building a front to the counter tops and bars and applying stikwood to the front to give the counters a reclaimed and weathered wood look. Stikwood is particularly good for this because it is thin, pre-treated, and comes with an adhesive backing that will allow us to apply it quickly.

    When the boxes arrived, I thought for sure it would take at least 10 – 12 of these to equal 120 sq ft of coverage. Nope! They are that thin.

    That’s it for now. More to come!

  • Retail Update: Home Stretch

    The shop is in its final stages of build out. But frankly, opening the doors still feels so far away! Our previous posts, Help Us Get Creative and Let’s Build It, can give you perspective on how far we’ve come, but the finishing touches are still to come. The contractors are working hard, and it shows.

    The Gist

    Approvals, Negotiations, Initial Permitting, and Bids: Completed

    Funding: Completed

    Moving the Fire Door & Wall Repair: Completed

    Plumbing and Electrical Infrastructure: Completed

    Tiling and Paint: Completed

    Counter and Shelving Construction & Installation: In Progress

    Signage: Pending Historic Preservation Board Approval

    Final Inspections: Pending Counter Top Installation

    Opening: Pending Inspections

     

    Paint & Tiles

    The entire space changed when new paint was applied to the walls. It looks beautiful! Dark chocolaty brown on the ceiling, mocha on the accent wall and soffit, and beautiful white soft-finish tile work that anchors and supports the entire color pallet. We can wait to see how the spices look with that beautiful tile work as a backdrop. The tile wall was our bigger investment because we wanted the food prepping and tasting area to look as refined as possible. We think it’ll pay off.

    What We’re Thinking About Now

     

    Window Sills

    The decision whether or not to treat the windows and replace the sill was tough. On one hand, the windows were “good enough”, so we didn’t prioritized the task in favor of other items. On the other hand, because our Community Sourced Capital campaign was successful, we had a bit of capital to give it a fresh upgrade. The general contractor also pushed hard to have it done, seeing it as a major piece of completing the overall space (and didn’t want someone to think that shoddy work was his… ha! Perfectionist). You can see above what it looked like once it was pulled out, and now we're very glad we did. That’s being worked on today.

     

    Cabinetry

    Hot-rolled steel counter tops are being fabricated in Spokane this week and early next week. We expect them to be delivered to us by end of next week, which will give us plenty of time to secure the cabinetry upon which the counter tops will rest. Seeing those beauties go in will definitely change the space in significant ways.

    Our builder says the first cabinets are near completion for the tasting bar. We’ll go take a look at them this weekend and hopefully bring them to the shop as soon as some of the other gear is out of the way. We don’t want to crowd the shop too much with the floors still needing a treatment, but we also need to start loading in refrigerators and such. It’s a coordination juggling act.

     

    Kitchen Items

    This part is almost entirely Aaron, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him geek out on kitchen equipment, glass jars, and serving ware. For the spice wall we wanted apothecary jars with glass stoppers to give the feel of experimentation and discovery. We looked high and low for jars that fit the bill, and even talked to a local glass studio about making them. Those kinds of jars aren’t easy to find. That is unless you go to Amazon.com, of course. Duh. After hours of searching, there they were, right there, sets in all different sizes and for much less cost than we anticipated. We just had to use the correct search terms; it turns out that “reagent” is the new “apothecary”.

    We’d convinced ourselves this would be an area we’d need to invest significant money, but it’s turning out that both the kitchen equipment and the lighting fixtures we wanted are significantly less money than planned! For whatever reason our luck has just been fantastic finding deals. Hurray for that.

     

    Open Date

    We are crossing our fingers for a May 18th soft opening. That date is all dependent cabinetry installation, bar tops arrival, and inspections (which can’t happen until everything is installed, and must be scheduled 2 weeks in advance). Oh yeah, and we have to pass the inspection. That will all be very tight, but it is our goal. Otherwise we’ll slip to Memorial Day weekend.

  • 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.

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