Steamboat’s Chocolate Soup selling its confections at Whole Foods
September 7, 2011
For more information about Chocolate Soup or to order products online, go to http://www.chocolatesoupcafe.com.
Steamboat Springs — Lisa Ciraldo had grand plans when she opened Chocolate Soup Pastry Cafe five years ago. Those plans now are being realized.
Chocolate Soup is selling its milk chocolate almond and dark chocolate pistachio macaroons and its Bella Luna graham crackers at Whole Foods Market stores in the company's Rocky Mountain region. The products were introduced in some Whole Foods stores last week.
"I love having a retail cafe, but having products we can market to the rest of the world has been a dream of mine," Ciraldo said.
Ciraldo partnered with Steamboat resident and customer Mary Ann Gunn in spring 2010. Gunn, who has experience with product development and brand launching, shared Ciraldo's enthusiasm for Chocolate Soup products and finding ways to expose them to more customers.
After taking the macaroons — small, coconut-based cookies — to a few Fancy Food Shows, which are sponsored by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, they started finding retailers to sell them. Chocolate Soup now sells to about 50 retailers, mostly mom-and-pop stores, but it took more than a year to get to Whole Foods.
Ciraldo said four Whole Foods stores have placed orders, which is about all she and Gunn can handle for now. The two weigh each half-ounce cookie, roll them by hand, bake and pack them at the Chocolate Soup location on Mount Werner Circle.
The macaroons are shipped the day they're made and have a two-week shelf life or can be frozen and stored if ordered in larger quantities, Ciraldo said. The graham crackers, shaped like stars and moons, have a 90-day shelf life.
Gunn said the hope is to eventually sell in more Whole Foods stores and other retailers, which would allow Chocolate Soup's wholesaling to grow and require the company to hire more employees. She's optimistic that will happen.
"What got us here is the fact we have a delicious product," Gunn said. "We have a wonderfully scrumptious product that we don't have competition with. No one has our macaroon recipe."
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com
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