GAYLORD — The Chocolatmeister is at it again.
Bruce Brown, owner of the Alpine Chocolat Haus, opened a new kitchen facility in Gaylord at 505 S. Wisconsin Ave., and said December is the busiest month of the year. And that makes the timing of the new kitchen facility opening even sweeter.
“You might buy for employees for a Christmas party, you might go over to a friend’s house and say ‘Hey, what do I bring as a gift?’ Chocolate is a great item,” Brown said. “Christmas is pretty much the whole month all the (time),” Brown said.
Entering the building one can see employees through the large display glass along with the brand’s light teal and chocolate brown theme repeated around the facility. Employees can be seen busily making sweets for the holiday season and beyond at workstations and covering goods in chocolate through roughly 20-feet long enrobing machines.
A smattering of freshly coated dark chocolate-covered potato chips made their way down one of the enrobing machine lines dedicated to one type of chocolate.
Brown said he will operate both locations at the same, one as a kitchen and the other will continue as the Gaylord retail shop for customers seeking chocolates.
Just in time for the business’ 31st anniversary, he moved the kitchen from the 208 W. Main Street shop’s cramped upstairs to the more spacious and treat-friendly location on Wisconsin last month.
“We get so much product in just in chocolate — we get like 40,000 pounds a year — and we used to have to carry that up the stairs and then when we make it, we bring it downstairs,” Brown said. “So now we just roll it off the truck.”
Employees said they are happy to have the new facility with plenty of room to move about and no stairs to haul products up and down.
Kelly Pelach, Alpine Chocolat Haus cook, worked on melting white chocolate in a copper cauldron as she talked about her time with the business.
“It’s a busy environment (with) something different everyday,” Pelach said. “It’s a fun job — everyday I come in it’s just making something different. It’s fun to try new things and Bruce is really good about trying new things, and if it doesn’t work out, let’s just try it again.”
Pelach said the other eight to 10 staff members have a great working relationship with each other.
“We get a lot done, but we have fun,” Pelach said.
While Pelach finished melting the white chocolate, other staff members worked on packaging, covering products in chocolate, decorating and shipping goods.
Linda DeLong has been with the Chocolat Haus for 4 1/2 years and said she and her coworkers are each a Jack-of-all-trades kind of crowd.
“I’ve never had a job where (time) went by so fast because we do different things and it’s fun,” DeLong said. “I like to run the (chocolate enrobing) lines. Those are fun.”
The Chocolat Haus also has retail locations in Boyne City, Plymouth and Sault Ste. Marie.
Arielle Breen (989) 732-1111 firstname.lastname@example.org