Last week, I had the incredible good fortune to attend the pre-opening party of DANDELION CHOCOLATE’s new factory, café, and retail shop in the Mission. It’s a staggering, 28,000-square-foot space designed by Chris Harrelson of architecture firm Gensler. The building is quite a beaut: it’s 107 years old, with exposed woodwork, master-quality masonry and brickwork, and high ceilings. There’s even a rooftop garden. It has been a long time coming, with construction-related delays and more, but it finally opens on Friday April 19th.
The factory itself has an open floor plan, so you can see the entire chocolate-making process with their cutting-edge and custom machines from around the world (there are even elevated viewing platforms). Dandelion will host daily tours of the factory and continue their popular classes, including Chocolate 101, plus advanced classes, as well as classes for children and families.
Bloom, the chocolate salon, is like a visit to a grand European café, with beveled antique glass walls and brass-finished furniture. Executive pastry chef Lisa Vega, who has been with the company since 2013, is offering all-day service, including a breakfast menu with Camino Verde chocolate granola with oats, quinoa, nibs, hazelnuts, dried cherries, Saint Benoit yogurt, and seasonal fruit; Cake for Breakfast, with chocolate chip pancake cake, vanilla cream, chocolate maple sauce; and Market Quiche with leeks, Swiss chard, Wagon Wheel, frisée, and cacao pulp vinaigrette.
Afternoon service bring a variety of experiences, including Afternoon Chocolate with classic French pastries (chocolate soufflé, Earl Grey profiterole, almond-raspberry napoleon), and hot chocolate, served in the style of afternoon tea; Tree to Bar, an eight-course tasting exploration of the cacao pod and its transformation into chocolate; and Camino Verde Intensive, a three-course, chocolate-rich tasting featuring 70-percent chocolate from Camino Verde farm in Ecuador.
In a rush? There’s a to-go café with leather banquettes, a custom redwood counter, and panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows letting in natural light. The café will serve Ritual Coffee and chocolate-based beverages, including Mission Hot Chocolate (foamed and spicy); and Frozen Hot Chocolate (topped with cocoa nib-infused whipped cream), as well as sweets. The retail shop will sell Dandelion Chocolate’s single-origin bars and more.
Founders, former tech-entrepreneurs, and chocolate obsessives Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring have come a long way since their beginnings in 2010—they now have additional retail locations in San Francisco, as well as in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Kyoto, Ise, and Kamakura, Japan, and Taipei. With the new factory, they’ll be able to scale up and increase production by 10 times the output of their current Valencia Street factory (which will remain open), and will be capable of making up to 1.5 million bars per year. [head exploding emoji]
The café will be open daily 8am-8pm. Bloom is open Tue-Sun 9am-6pm, starting May 14th, with a special Mother’s Day service on May 12th. 2600 16th St. at Alabama.
Bloom, the chic chocolate salon at the new Dandelion Chocolate factory. Photo: Eric Wolfinger.