Nothing says Valentine’s Day like chocolate. And nobody does chocolate like All Things Chocolate & More in Richmond Hill.
The family-owned and operated store sells more than 300 varieties of chocolate — everything from truffles and caramels to more unusual confections, like chocolate-covered bacon and potato chips.
“The best thing about this place is seeing the look on someone’s face when they bite into a piece of your chocolate, and you know you’ve just made their day,” said Margaret Riccelli-Willis, who co-owns the store with her husband, David Willis, and her parents, Rosalie and Dominick “Scott” Riccelli.
The Riccelli-Willis family expects heavy crowds today and tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. Special orders have been pouring in all week, and they’re working hard to provide customers with the perfect sweets for their sweethearts.
“It gets pretty busy,” said David. “At one point last year, it was so crowded in here we had people waiting in line outside the door. It’s a little crazy, but in a good way.”
David predicts that chocolate-covered strawberries will be the most popular item on the menu, followed by caramels and assorted gift boxes.
“People just love them. Last year, I think Margaret was dipping strawberries for four days straight.”
With five industrial grade machines in the kitchen, the Riccelli-Willis family is capable of producing up to 12,000 pounds of chocolate per day. They don’t usually produce that much, but Scott said Valentine’s Day is one of the few times a year they come close.
“I don’t know what it is about chocolate and Valentine’s Day, but they go together,” he said, “I think chocolate is just something meaningful that people want to give to the ones they love.”
Chocolate has played a key role in Margaret and David’s own romance. The couple met through a chocolate shop David once owned in New Jersey.
“My friend’s sister was in his store, and she set us up on a blind date,” said Margaret. “Chocolate has been a sweet part of our lives. Without that chocolate shop, none of this would be possible.”
The couple now has a 12-year-old daughter named Ava Rose who helps out at the store when she’s not in school.
In addition to chocolate and assorted candies, the Riccelli-Willis family also makes and sells cannoli, cheesecakes and other assorted baked goods. Due to customer demand, Rosalie, who is the creative force in the kitchen, has recently added popular Italian take-out offerings, like lasagna and Stromboli, to the shop’s repertoire.
“She reads cookbooks like you or I would read novels,” said Rosalie’s husband, Scott. “I tease her that her ingredients are like the characters, the taste is the heroine, and time and heat are the villains.”
This will be All Things Chocolate & More’s last Valentine’s Day in its current location. The family is in the process of building a new shopping complex on Ford Avenue diagonally across from St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
“We wanted more visibility and more room,” said Scott. “The new location will allow us to offer more variety to our customers. We’d like to be able to fulfill all of their requests for new and different things.”
The 8,500-square-foot complex is scheduled to open in October. All Things Chocolate & More will be housed in a 3,000-square-foot space, while the remaining 5,500 square feet will be let to other retailers.
To find out more about All Things Chocolate & More and to check out their daily specials, visit their Facebook page or call 756-3314.