You've heard of farm-to-table? Meet bean-to-bar chocolate. Sjolinds long-awaited chocolate factory in Mount Horeb has opened.
On Wednesday, the expansion of the downtown chocolate shop opened its doors on Lillehammer Lane, on the east side of town. It allows more room for the growing chocolate business, which owners hope will enable more online sales, and offers a drive through for busy diners.
The family that owns Sjolinds Chocolate House — Chris and Tracy Thompson and their daughters, Melissa Thiessen and Erin Thiessen-Barta — call this new location Sjolinds Chocolate Factory, but they laugh at the word "factory."
"It's a small-scale, artisan, bean-to-bar operation," Chris Thompson said.
Sjolinds opened on East Main Street in Mount Horeb in 2006 as a dessert and coffee house. They had about 800 square feet, which they bought in 2012 and remodeled.
"My wife's concept was chocolate, all things chocolate," Thompson said. "The community wanted food ... we shifted gears and provided food, pastries and quiche and lunch."
The pastries and other baked goods, Thompson said, pushed the chocolate into a smaller and smaller space. And chocolate and baking don't mix.
"Baking produces heat and humidity and those are the enemies of chocolate," he said. "It requires a more temperature-controlled environment."
About a year ago, they broke ground on a lot on the east side of Mount Horeb across from a GrandStay Hotel. The new building is 2,000 square feet, about half of which is dedicated to a cafe. The other half is for chocolate production.
All the baking will stay at the Chocolate House, downtown.
"We're able to increase our production," Thompson said.
The menu will mostly stay the same, keeping the emphasis on bean-to-bar chocolate that appears in truffles, hot chocolate and more.
The name Sjolinds comes from Tracy's mother's maiden name. The family (whose name is now spelled Shulind) emigrated to Alexandria, Virginia from Sweden and Norway.
Response to the new facility so far has been "great," Thompson said. In the future, the plan is to do tours and chocolate tastings, but those are still in the works.
"People would drive by and ask, 'When's it opening, when's it opening?'" he said. "We've been busy. The community has always been good to us and we're grateful for that."