The past couple of years at the Chocolate House of Ann Arbor haven’t been all that sweet.
For the first six years of its tenure, owner Vicky Ponitz juggled the business while holding down a series of day jobs. When that proved untenable, she sold the business last June to her nephew, Alex Molnar. Molnar changed the name to Carillon Chocolates and added a coffeehouse vibe, but couldn’t make a living from it, either. He gave up the business and the lease at the end of May–“we all kind of saw it wasn’t working,” he says.
Fortunately, Ponitz had ready buyers on hand: staffer Jacob Smith and his buddy Aaron McRae. They’d wanted to buy the business earlier and were thrilled to get a second chance.
The first thing the new owners did was undo many of Molnar’s innovations, including the name change. They’ve also brought back some longtime customer favorites, including English toffee, dark chocolate-covered malt balls, and the shop’s famous chocolate layer cake.
They’re keeping some of Molnar’s changes, too: buying top-quality coffee beans and roasting them in-house and making truffles by hand. “We’re taking kind of the best of Carillon Chocolates and the best of the Chocolate House and putting them together,” Smith says.
Smith, twenty-two, will be running the front of the store. McRae, thirty, with a marketing background, will remain behind the scenes. “Whether it’s somebody coming in for a cup of coffee in the morning or a coffee and a piece of tiramisu at night, we want to make sure that there’s something for everyone here,” McRae says. “We want everybody to be happy.”
The Chocolate House, 330 S. Main. 222-0552. Mon.-Thurs. 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 8 a.m.-midnight, Sat. 10 a.m.-midnight, Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
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This article has been edited since it appeared in the July 2010 Ann Arbor Observer to reflect Alex Molnar’s explanation of the ownership change.
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After less than a year in the former Mosaic Sphere space on Huron and Fourth, owner Tricia Huffman moved Mended Pieces back home to her three-acre farm in Saline on June 1. Huffman says the rent proved prohibitive and the logistics problematic, but adds, “I’m not sorry I did it. I met some wonderful people and had some wonderful opportunities.”
Though she no longer has a showroom, her work can be seen on her website, mendedpieces.com.
Got a retail or restaurant change? Send email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or, or leave voicemail at 769-3175, ext. 309.