Tonight I returned to a shop I first mentioned in a post last spring. When I first stopped in, Dr. Chocolate’s Chocolate Chateau had recently opened in a four-story Victorian mansion in Saint Paul. I’ve been back a few times since (once for an out-of-this-world French toast breakfast) and tonight was my chance to visit in more of a professional capacity and dig deeper. And because my experience and what I learned was all about fun, I must tell the Dr. Chocolate story here.
Dr. Chocolate, a.k.a. Dr. John Gannon, grew up in Minneapolis and eventually attended St. Thomas University in Saint Paul. He and his lovely wife (yes, that would be Mrs. Dr. Chocolate, though her real name is Evelyn) then lived in California where he practiced for many years as a forensic clinical psychologist. He also dabbled briefly in the chocolate business, but things didn’t pan out and he continued on his chosen career path. Fast forward to a few years back and he and his wife purchased a lovely and large mansion in St. Paul that had often housed charming Italian restaurants. When the last restaurant tenant left, the empty building seemed an ideal spot for Dr. Gannon and his wife to realize their dream of returning to the chocolate business.
The mansion opened its first level in early 2012 as a retail chocolate shop, offering gift items and a diverse selection of locally, nationally, and internationally sourced chocolates. By mid-summer, it also sold ice cream scoops and wine pours and the third and fourth floors were opened for the above-mentioned French toast extravaganza. Tonight, the local chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier met at Dr. Chocolate’s for a tour and wine tasting.
We were treated to a peek at their in-progress chocolate museum as well as what will be their wedding cake tasting room on the second floor, then whisked off to the upper levels for a beautifully planned and implemented wine-and-chocolate tasting. Four pours (two red, two white) were served with six chocolate samples. Dr. Chocolate, clearly a brilliant man (he had the names of all 20 of our group’s attending members memorized very soon after meeting us), had constructed a tasting sheet for matching flavor profiles to each chocolate we sampled. Tasting the wines and chocolate was a treat, as was listening to Krystal, the event planner, and Dr. Chocolate describe what we were tasting.
Word of Dr. Chocolate’s tasting events is spreading; their third and fourth floors are now regularly used. These floors also open to the public most Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, offering fine wine, craft beer, inventive cocktails, and music. What fun to see the progress made since my initial visit and write-up.
Which is why the end of the evening meant so much to me. Evelyn called me aside near the meeting’s close to ask if I’d written a blog post about them soon after they had opened. (Why yes, yes I had!) I had sent them the link to my post, as I often do when writing about local businesses, but hadn’t known that it had been received, much less read. Recognizing me from my photo (these Gannons are bright folk for sure–what a memory), Evelyn so kindly shared that they had appreciated my words and even included a copy of the post in their Dr. Chocolate’s Chocolate Chateau scrapbook. I was touched and honored to have made this connection.
Dr. Chocolate, his wife, and all staff involved in the evening were charming, gracious, and great fun. Dr. Gannon and wife have taken a (delicious) passion from dream to reality. Saint Paul is lucky to have Dr. Chocolate in the house.