Two months after its opening and just days before Valentine’s Day, Chocolat Maya is making a name for itself in New Haven’s chocolate and truffle market.
Chocolat Maya is a dessert cafe that serves mostly chocolate truffles, hot chocolate (“original”, “spicy” and “boozy” all available) and baked goods made primarily of chocolate. The store opened on Dec. 16 at 47 High St., just minutes from campus, hoping to capture Yale students’ sweet tooth. The shop, which replaced Chocopologie, suffered from slow business at first, said Dillon Dabbs, an employee of Chocolat Maya, because it opened just as Yalies were leaving for winter break, but business has recently improved. Students interviewed who went to Chocolat Maya said they enjoyed the experience, adding that the store was similar in aesthetic and taste to Chocopologie.
“It was very similar to the last chocolate place that was in the same space,” said Tiffany Fan ’14. “The layout was very similar. The food was very similar. It was a little pricey but it was high quality.”
The owner of Chocolat Maya, Robert Klinger, also owns S’wings, a pizza and wings restaurant located at 280 Crown St. and the Little Salad Shop located next door to Chocolat Maya at 45 High St.
Chocolat Maya is Klinger’s first eatery with a sit-in cafe. Vintage postcards and mirrors cover the interior walls, and the menu lives up to the name of the restaurant. Chocolat Maya offers a wide selection of truffles, bon-bons and other chocolate-themed desserts. The most popular truffle is salted caramel, Dabbs said.
The restaurant serves drinks as well as chocolate. One of the most popular is the “Prohibition-era cocktail,” Dabbs said, which is made in part of real crushed peas. Other drinks include a variety of wines.
Dabbs added that the store’s target customers are college students — both those on dates and those who trickle in late at night. He said both the aesthetic and the menu are geared towards a younger crowd.
After the initial business slump when Yale students were on break, Chocolat Maya hosted a grand opening ceremony a week and a half ago. Dabbs said the opening ceremony was successful in attracting customers both on the day of the event and in spreading the name of the store among prospective patrons, including Yalies. Dabbs estimated that approximately 200 customers attended the grand opening, and that business in general has doubled since the grand opening.
So far, Chocolat Maya has been more successful than Chocopologie, Dabbs said. Many branches of Chocopologie are now closed, Dylan explained, and the franchise gets most of its business by selling their brand’s products in other chocolate boutiques.
But some students, like Fan, see little difference between Chocolat Maya and Chocopologie, citing the menu and design of the restaurant as evidence that the two establishments are similar.
Libbie Katsev ’17 said she enjoyed with her experience at Chocolat Maya. She tried the strawberry balsamic truffle, which she said was “fruity but not overpoweringly so.” Katsev added that when her sister visits next weekend, she plans to take her to Chocolat Maya to try the hot chocolate, which she said she has heard is legendary.
Dabbs said the management expects a large turnout for Valentine’s Day, since Chocolat Maya has become a popular date destination for Yalies and other young people. In preparation, the store is displaying an assortment of pink, red and heart-shaped truffles.
Five businesses have operated next door to Chocolat Maya’s space in the past decade.