Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Got a hankering for chocolate? Hanker no more.

Few things in life are as good as chocolate, and if you're in the Mendham Shopping Center near King's Supermarket, you have a great opportunity to rev up those taste buds with the wide assortment of savory sweets at the Chocolate Shoppe.

"We have a wide variety," says Erin Carrajat, the store's manager. "We have liqueur cherries and almond butter crunch that we make all ourselves from scratch, simple things like chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate-covered potato chips, [and] we make our own truffles."

The Chocolate Shoppe started in Washington in Warren County before Carajat's mother, Darleen Wizorek, decided to open another shop in Mendham, where a previous chocolate shop once was.

"My husband and I have lived here for five years, and we knew the other chocolate shop that was here, at this exact same spot," Carrajat says, "When it went out of business, I just said to my mom: 'I think we can make it.' "

And so far, things have been going well in this cozy little spot, as there are customers coming in to pick up a plethora of different items and not just chocolate alone.

"We sell candy buttons, rock candy, fireballs, all that kind of stuff," Carrajat says of some of the other candies sold in the shop that isn't their homemade chocolate.

"We have a wide selection of gifts as well," Carrajat continues. "What's really been popular right now is that we sell a lot of signs. We contract with about four U.S. companies (that make) signs that you just hang on a wall, like 'Enjoy life, this is not a rehearsal,' or 'Life's a beach,' things like that."

Front and center at this store, though, is the chocolate itself. Carrajat was the first to really get involved with making it, and her sister and mother took an interest in it as well, making it a passion of theirs that they would both pursue along with Carrajat.

"My parents are really the owners of the shop, and my sister and I work for my parents," Carrajat says.

"If you're familiar with Mangel's in Chester, the previous owners, Bob and Sandra Bisk, were our mentors. We worked there for several years under them before we went out and bought our own shop," Carrajat says.

In addition to their dessert trays and sweets, they have sugar-free chocolates as well. They have pretty much everything that you could want from a chocolate shop and more, and Carrajat attributes their success to the fact that they're family owned and run.

"We really pride ourselves on (being) a small mom-and-pop shop," Carrajat says.

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