Save room for dessert — Chocopologie has come to New Haven.
Chocopologie, a café that serves hot beverages and handmade gourmet chocolates and pastries, opened Friday on High Street between Chapel and Crown Streets. It is a smaller, streamlined version of the original Chocopologie — a restaurant and chocolate café in South Norwalk, Conn.
The café is also the first temporary “pop-up” restaurant brought to New Haven by Our Empty Space, a company founded by local resident Danyel Aversenti that seeks to use the city’s vacant storefronts. Aversenti contacted the owner of Chocopologie — Danish chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt — this summer to see whether he would be interested in opening a store in New Haven.
Knipschildt, who had already been considering expanding the successful Chocopologie, agreed to try out a new location.
“The two ends met and it was kind of perfect timing,” said Aversenti, who had been introduced to Chocopologie through a friend. “Suddenly it was signed, sealed and delivered, and now it’s open.”
Contrary to the idea of a pop-up shop, New Haven Chocopologie chef Christian Wilki said the satellite location may decide to stay on High Street.
“We want to stay if it’s doing well,” Wilki said, adding that business has been good so far. “We’re going to sit down and talk in early January, and then we’ll make the decision.”
Wilki, who manages the New Haven store, said he thinks Knipschildt might consider opening additional Chocopologie locations if this one does well.
Knipschildt, who founded Knipschildt Chocolatier in 1999 and Chocopologie in 2005, directs both businesses out of South Norwalk. Knipschildt Chocolatier products are sold across the country in over 1,000 locations, from Whole Foods to the Chocolate Room in Brooklyn, and have been featured in publications like The New York Times and Martha Stewart Living Magazine.
“It’s a classy place to go—something different from the regular New Haven food,” said Jaci Nakamura ’15, though she added that Chocopologie’s “beautifully designed” products aren’t necessarily suited to a student budget.
Unlike the original, the Elm City’s Chocopologie is a dessert café rather than a full-service restaurant, and does not have a full gallery for customers to watch the chocolate-making process in action.
Instead, freshly handmade truffles and other confections are driven to New Haven from South Norwalk each morning. But other desserts are made onsite by Wilki and three employees.
“We are a small company, but we’re busy all the time,” said Wilki.
Wilki, who arrived in the United States from Denmark only 11 months ago, explained that the South Norwalk location has the machines, space and staff required to make the chocolate.
But Wilki finds a way to make the most of the small kitchen at the New Haven Chocopologie, baking cupcakes, muffins, cookies and cakes there every day.
“I have fun standing and talking with all the customers,” he said. “In a store this size, we’re so close. It’s great.”
Wilki’s staff includes Meagan King, from Hamden, who is new to the Chocopologie staff. A part-time student at Gateway Community College studying baking and pastry, King said working at Chocopologie has already been a useful experience.
“This is totally something I want to do,” she said. “[Wilki] is teaching me a lot. It’s a fun place to work, and it always smells delicious.”
Aversenti said she is pleased with how Chocopologie is doing so far and says she is already moving on to planning other pop-ups in the Elm City. “I have buildings and spaces all over New Haven,” she said, adding that she is interested in securing a pop-up vegetarian or vegan restaurant in the future.
Chocopologie is open Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 10 p.m., Thursday from noon to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.