When chocolatier Brian Pelletier decided to open a second Kakao Chocolate location, he knew where he wanted to go.
"Maplewood is a great foodie community," Pelletier said. "It's filled with so many other great businesses: , , . The list goes on."
Pelletier was familiar with Maplewood because he sells his chocolate at the . His experience in the city allowed him to accurately gauge what the community wanted and needed in a local business. In the spirit of community involvement, Pelletier reached out to businesses in the area and fostered a few collaborations of his own.
"Right now, we have a Fig Chili Balsamic Vinegar truffle that contains balsamic vinegar from Vom Fass," Pelletier said.
Kakao Chocolate also features Coffee Bark; this creamy creation is sprinkled with grounds of freshly and locally roasted Goshen coffee.
"We also gave some cocoa nibs," Pelletier said. "They're going to play around with them and possibly create their own beer with them."
Kakao Chocolate offers a variety of items for casual chocolate fans, as well as the more extreme consumer. Everything from sea salt caramels to chocolate bark is offered.
Kakao's Grill Rub ($4) is a marinating rub for chicken, pork or beef. It features cocoa powder, cinnamon, sea salt and other spices. Or try Kakao's Marshmallow Pies ($4); this sweet treat contains housemade, vanilla bean marshmallow, toasted pecans, semisweet chocolate, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Kakao Chocolate established its roots when it opened its first location on Jefferson Avenue in downtown St. Louis. That location opened in May 2009, but Pelletier began making chocolate a year earlier.
"I started out selling chocolate at various farmers markets, as well as wholesale and at special events," Pelletier said. "But then I decided I wanted to open up my own shop."
With all of the delightful offerings, the future certainly looks bright for Kakao Chocolate. The official grand opening is set for February 26, during which Pelletier promises "lots of chocolate."
The shop is still open for normal business during the week with a smaller sampling of what is to come. Pelletier's blog lists the hours of operation as Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Pelletier said residents have been extremely receptive to their new neighbor.
"When we were still under construction, we'd see people walking by, giving us the thumbs up through the window," Pelletier said. "We feel very welcomed here."