GAYLORD — How sweet it is!
The long-vacant building at 505 S. Wisconsin Ave. will soon become the new production and distribution facility for the Alpine Chocolat Haus.
“People are really happy we are resurrecting an old building,” said Bruce Brown, who has served as “Der Chocolatmeister” since opening Gaylord’s favorite sweet shop in 1985.
Brown said he purchased the 6,800-square-foot building, which had previously housed the post office and several other establishments, a few months ago to accommodate his ever-growing business.
“We need more space,” he said. “We have literally outgrown where we are.”
Brown said his staff of eight to 10 currently works in the 1,600-square-foot kitchen on the second floor of the Alpine Chocolat Haus at 208 W. Main St.
The new space will afford nearly double that area with 3,000 square feet of bright, ground-level space. Brown said the remainder of the building will be used for shipping, receiving and storage. He noted that all retail operations will remain at the Main Street store.
“We bring in nearly 50,000 pounds of chocolate a year,” Brown said. “And it all has to go to the second floor. Now we have a loading dock.”
Brown said work is still in progress at the new site, and he hopes to have the new kitchen up and running by November, in time for the holiday season.
“The building was in good shape, we just made it suit us,” he said, adding that improvements have included erecting a wall to designate the kitchen area, and installing new roof, furnace and air conditioning.
Gaylord is the production and distribution hub of the Alpine Chocolat Haus enterprise, which includes stores in Boyne City, Plymouth and Sault Ste. Marie. Brown and his crew turn out creams, truffles, nut clusters caramel corn, caramel apples, chocolate-covered potato chips and all of the decadent treats that make sweet-tooths swoon with delight.
“We make everything right here,” Brown said. “Everything that you see in the stores — probably more than 300 products.”
Brown said all of the Alpine Chocolat Haus stores are “doing really well.” The company’s 40 employees stay busy all year with retail customers as well as around 30 wholesale accounts and brisk internet sales.
“We are in our 31st year, we are four stores and still growing,” he said.
“It’s been a good business; Gaylord has been very good to me.”
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Judy Wagley, Gaylord Herald Times