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Monday, Dec. 3, 2012

Red Elephant’s ‘Chocolate Experience’

Third Ward Welcomes its First Chocolate Café

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As a former co-owner of Buddy Squirrel, Richard Koenings has a background in the candy business, but his latest venture is far more ambitious than the typical candy shop. With Red Elephant, open since mid-November at 333 N. Broadway in the Third Ward, Koenings has launched what he calls the city’s first chocolate café.

“We’re trying to expand on the traditional chocolate company to create a new model,” he explains. “People came up with the idea for coffee cafés and now I think they’re ready for a chocolate café, especially when you consider all the proven health benefits of dark chocolate.”

Red Elephant sells a wide variety of chocolate-shop staples, from turtles and caramels to meltaways and truffles, but it also offers what Koenings calls “the chocolate experience”—a café option with a variety of deserts and chocolate-based beverages.

“It’s a way to have chocolate in any numbers of ways as a treat,” he says. “We have chocolate cake pieces, red velvet pieces, cheesecake pieces, cake bites, chocolate biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate macaroons and on and on. And we also have drinks including our black diamond chocolate coffee—which isn’t a chocolate mocha that you might typically get, since it has finely ground chocolate that’s blended right into the coffee—as well as our hot chocolate and chocolate shakes. We have chocolate ice cream and vanilla-bean ice cream that can be served with any of our items, and little containers of liquid chocolate you can dip any of our deserts in to. We also have chocolate whipped cream, which you can add to your coffee or your hot chocolate or any of our bakery, so you can have all of these toppings with your treat. It really is a chocolate experience you’ll never forget.”

If that sounds like a busy menu, that’s because it is, and Koenings admits that he expects fine-tuning the café (which will soon have Internet access) will be “a learning process.” Anecdotally, though, he’s already seen signs that people are responding to the concept.

“I’ve found that there are very few people who don’t have a smile on their face when you talk to them about chocolate,” he says, “and the more I tell them about our chocolate café, the bigger that smile gets.”

To learn more about Red Elephant, visit redelephantchocolate.com.