Another taste of the San Francisco chocolatier Ghirardelli is arriving in Chicago this weekend, this one boasting a chocolate-making station and a chocolate-covered fruit and nut bar
The new two-floor 7,000-square-foot space — filled with bags of chocolate squares, chocolate tins, an ice cream sundae bar, a chocolate-making station and more — is only a few blocks from Chicago’s first Ghirardelli outpost at 830 N. Michigan Ave., which opened about 20 years ago. More than 100 new employees have been brought in to run the latest chocolate and ice cream shop.
Ghirardelli will soon sandwich both ends of the bustling shopping thoroughfare. “You can’t miss Ghirardelli in Chicago,” marketing director Kym Hough said as she stood at the entryway to the nearly opened location Friday afternoon. She called the Wrigley Building a “destination landmark building” that fits with the company’s brand and goal to expand to a more tourist-friendly location closer to the city’s museums and other attractions further south.
The latest store will be the largest store nationwide with 100 seats sprinkled throughout a second level and a ground-floor patio filled with tables and deep blue umbrellas. The Michigan Avenue entrance, in the recently renovated plaza courtyard, opens to piles of chocolate squares to pick and mix, tins of more chocolate goodies and other retail products. Free samples will be offered when customers walk inside. Find Chicago-themed souvenirs among the large photographs of San Francisco scenes and sights along the walls.
Special to this location is the “Chocolatier” chocolate making station, where a chocolate chef will create goodies in front of customers from a spigot flowing with melted chocolate. The original San Francisco and Boston’s Faneuil Hall locations are the only other spots to take in the chocolate-making experience. Look for a Chicago custom mold in the coming months, along with DIY class sessions.
The chocolate-covered fruit and nut bar is another special addition to the Wrigley location. Only at the main San Francisco store can chocolate aficionados mix and match their own bag of chocolate covered cashews, almonds, cherries, blueberries, espresso beans and nine other flavors.
Starting on Saturday (and lasting until the store’s official grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony July 22), a specialty Chicago sundae will be offered: chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge and a Ghirardelli Colossal Cookie, topped with whipped cream, caramel and, of course, a cherry.
As to nearby competition across the street — Dylan’s Candy Bar opened late last year — Hough said she isn’t worried; the stores have different focuses. Dylan’s is about discovering different types of candies from around the world, while Ghirardelli revolves solely around chocolate, from “bean to bar,” she added.
Both the Wrigley Building and chocolate company can trace their roots to earlier days of sweets and treats. The Wrigley Building, built in 1921 and completed in 1924 with the addition of the adjoining North Tower, was the headquarters for chewing gum company Wrigley until 2012. Wrigley is now owned by Mars Inc., makers of chocolate bars and other sugary items. After the sale, the Wrigley Building went through its own transformation, a renovation of its street-level plaza and the addition of new tenants for its retail spaces, including Walgreens and Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
The building’s tenant has an even deeper history. During the California Gold Rush, Italian national Domingo Ghirardelli moved to the states and started selling supplies, confections and chocolate specialty items to luxury-starved miners with plenty of gold dust to spend. In 1852 he opened a confectionary shop in San Francisco, which eventually became the world famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. Originally a San Francisco destination, the San Leandro, Calif.,-based company has grown to more than 23 locations nationwide.
( Chicago Tribune )