French Broad Chocolate Lounge
Since its opening in February of 2008, the Chocolate Lounge has been a hit — in a big way. Jael Rattigan, who owns the store with husband Dan, says that within a year and a half of opening, the shop had tripled its seating capacity. "We originally thought just a few tables, a couch, just a cozy little sit-down chocolate shop, and the response was beyond our capacity," says Rattigan. "Our minds are blown — we are grateful beyond belief."
Best Sweets / Chocolate: French Broad Chocolate Lounge Photo by Jonathan Welch
Indeed, business has not just grown — it's exploded. The Chocolate Lounge has expanded vertically from one floor to three — yet the line still snakes its way out the door on particularly busy evenings.
It's no wonder — the Rattigans turn out fiendishly good sweets, brimming with local ingredients like mint grown by Asheville schoolchildren and honey from Blue Ridge-buzzing bees. The shop offers single-origin chocolates, described in the reverent terms generally reserved for geeked-out oenophiles.
For example, did you know that the cacao in the Peruvian truffles is "found amid the ruins of the Incan Empire?" And that a tuned palate may register a hint of bananas and papaya on a mild chocolate platform? Yes indeed, the Chocolate Lounge is a chocolate-lovers paradise.
The treats don't end at truffles, however. Ashevilleans are well aware that the lounge is the place to go for a parfait or a slice of cake to nosh with a glass of wine — or even a beer float.
"The intention was to distinguish ourselves from traditional chocolate shops by providing a comfortable and beautiful space for people to enjoy their indulgences," says Rattigan. "Definitely wine, coffee and cake were part of the overall picture of a place to come and be blissful."
— Mackensy Lunsford