Maurie's Fine Chocolates, the longstanding chocolatier at 1637 Monroe St., has announced it will close on Dec. 29.
The closure is not related to impending reconstruction of Monroe Street, which has been repeatedly postponed and is now scheduled for 2018.
“Monroe Street is going to be just fine,” said Cher Mandel Diamond, who opened Maurie’s in 1993. “It's a personal decision. I didn't want to sell the business because I didn't want to sell my family's recipes — the kids may want to use them.”
Diamond posted publicly Friday on the Monroe Street Madison Facebook page about plans to redirect her energy toward time with family and friends.
“Thank you for allowing Maurie’s Fine Chocolates to be part of your lives, your stories and your personal celebrations,” Diamond's note reads. “Maurie’s Fine Chocolates has been more successful than I could have ever hoped.”
Diamond owns the one-story building at 1637 Monroe St. and may lease it out after the new year — she'd love to see more “walk in business” on Monroe.
“I think it’s harder and harder for retail," given the competition from online shops, Diamond said. “Monroe Street is a fabulous space to be. The cadre of merchants is really wonderful ... the street's going to look really nice.”
Artisan chocolate has been booming in Madison in general and Monroe Street in particular. Both Madison Chocolate Company and Infusion Chocolates moved to the street less than a year ago.
Diamond, who “does the full spectrum” of sweets and hand tempers her chocolate, said customers have developed “more sophisticated tastes.”
“With the new chocolate businesses we’ve gotten busier,” Diamond said. “It’s a very labor intensive business. It’s a fine art, it’s science.
“Five years ago, people were interested in the taste of very dark chocolate, very curious flavors added to the chocolate. Now we’ve seen it come full circle. People are enjoying more classic flavors. Our salted caramel has become super popular again, and the English toffees.”
Diamond lays claim to a 50-year tradition of chocolate making. When she opened Maurie's in 1993 she named it for her father, Maurice Smith, who had a candy store in Pekin, Illinois.
“He sold newspapers and magazines and he made chocolate and caramel,” Diamond said. “That’s how I learned. I have his original marble slab and many of his copper kettles, his equipment and recipes.
“Hopefully I’ve honored his tradition.”
The shop opened when Badger Candy Kitchen was still in residence on the Capitol Square. One early story about Diamond's shop reported that “homemade butter cream caramels are their specialty, as well as butter cream fudge ... (and) two dozen varieties of chocolate-covered creams.”
For longstanding fans, Maurie's will offer commemorative bars which can keep longer. Until closing at the end of the month, Maurie's will continue to produce dark and milk chocolate almond bark, hand-dipped caramels and toffee, balsamic-infused chocolate truffles and Door County cherry and cranberry clusters, among other things.
Diamond hopes people will get their orders in soon.
“Everybody’s sad we’re closing, but they understand I’ve been working 24/7,” she said. “They’re happy for me.”