Carrie Rengers

Cocoa Dolce Chocolates to open at NewMarket Square

Rygg Design’s Jennifer Rygg, left, Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates retail manager Kristin Khosravipour, center, and Cocoa Dolce director of operations Amber Travis are at work on a new Cocoa Dolce at NewMarket Square. It will open by Christmas.
Rygg Design’s Jennifer Rygg, left, Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates retail manager Kristin Khosravipour, center, and Cocoa Dolce director of operations Amber Travis are at work on a new Cocoa Dolce at NewMarket Square. It will open by Christmas. The Wichita Eagle

When Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates popped up at NewMarket Square with a pop-up store for Valentine’s Day this year, the company said there could one day be a west-side Cocoa Dolce.

Now there’s going to be one at – where else? – NewMarket Square at 21st and Maize Road.

“We were really well received,” Amber Travis, director of operations, says of the pop-up store.

“The end goal is to grow the company, and we figured what better opportunity than being here local.”

The second Cocoa Dolce will open before Christmas in almost 3,000 square feet where Sports Time Fan Shop had been by the Panera along Maize Road.

Travis, who has worked for Cocoa Dolce for 11 years, says the west side was always an option. With the first Cocoa Dolce at Bradley Fair, though, she says, “We always thought it was maybe too close in proximity.”

Instead, previous owner Beth Tully, who started Cocoa Dolce in 2005, expanded to the new Prairiefire development in Kansas City. In July 2015, days after learning that a magazine named her chocolate the best new chocolate in Kansas City, Tully closed that shop due to slow sales. She explained at the time that she thought the store was ahead of its time in a development that wasn’t quite going yet.

A subsidiary of Wichita-based private equity firm Birds Eye Holdings purchased Cocoa Dolce’s assets in late 2015.

NewMarket developer Slawson Cos. has been trying to lure Cocoa Dolce for years.

“The right place came up at the right time,” Travis says. “They’ve been really good for making it work out for us.”

With a permanent store at NewMarket, she says it’s a chance to test systems and procedures to use in future expansions.

Travis says the idea is to “work out the kinks before we expand to other markets.”

The new store will be almost double the size of the Bradley Fair store.

“We’re being a little more intentional on the layout,” Travis says. “It was kind of a blank canvas for us.”

She says it will be better for customers and staff.

There will be a longer gelato case with double the offerings. There will be an expanded pastry case and lounge.

The drink area will be a particular focus.

“Our drinks have been going really well,” Travis says.

That includes wine slushies and Cocoa Dolce’s signature hot chocolate and mocha made with the store’s chocolate.

“Eventually, once the springtime comes, we’ll have a really nice closed-in patio,” Travis says.

Rygg Design’s Jennifer Rygg, who remodeled the Bradley Fair Cocoa Dolce about a year ago, is designing the new space.

Hutton Construction is the contractor.

“It’s been a really fun … project to work on with all of them,” Travis says.

There’s not a set opening date for the new store yet, but look for it soon.

Nor is there a set plan for the next expansion, but Travis says Birdseye managers are already looking into it.

“I think they’re hoping for a third store next year,” she says.

That store most likely will be out of the market, but there is a chance there could be a store of a different variation here. Travis isn’t sharing any details on that yet.

She says the NewMarket store will be known simply as Cocoa Dolce Chocolates.

Travis says that’s in part because the store sells more than artisan chocolates.

Also, she says, “I think we did it just to simplify things.”

She says it’s all about – and no pun intended – “keeping it simple and sweet.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

  Comments