Blog Post

The Business of (STL) Chocolate

I’d like to write about the two ganaches I made absolutely totally by myself, and tell you about how I boiled over the cream for the chile-vanilla and had to start over, and how I learned SO much from that experience that the lavender-vanilla I made the next day was absolutely perfect. Or about the wireless doorbell I bought so that I’ll know when someone comes to the shop.  Or even about the fun I had watching several different groups of people enjoying Kakao truffles over the weekend.

But I really need to write about the beginnings of the process of getting “approved” to make and sell chocolates in the City of St. Louis and State of Missouri. I’ll try to be brief.

Let’s start with the sales tax number you need to get from the city. They have a three-page form you need to complete in order to get one, and the first thing they ask for is your sales tax number. Huh? The kicker was that I went down to the office to file the paperwork, and was thwared by their requirement of a cashiers check or money order — no personal checks, credit cards, or cash — for the $25 filing fee. Seriously.

The city hasn’t been too much of a problem (knock on wood) although it does present some challenges. I have FIVE inspectors coming on Friday to make sure that my shop is up to code. A sixth inspector represents the air pollution department, and called me within a few hours of my initial application to see what type of manufacturing equipment I’d be installing and what type of pollution it would cause. (To her credit, she assumed chocolate making didn’t produce any pollution, but needed to be sure.)

Manufacturing? Indeed, I am considered by the City to be a manufacturer. And because I’m currently in an area zoned for retail, I need to apply for a variance and attend a hearing to get special approval to manufacture chocolates on Cherokee Street.

But I expected such challenges, and we’ll just power through them. And truly, those ganaches really look like they turned out well. And I can’t wait for the first time someone rings my doorbell.