David and Shelley Larsen of on Central Avenue had lured customers to yesterday's official grand opening with the promise of complimentary chocolate morsels and a ribbon cutting presided over by Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. But while there were succulent samples aplenty, David Larson had forgotten one minor detail in his quest to serve the shop's signature Belgian truffles, chocolate-enrobed Oreos and graham crackers smothered in sprinkles and M&Ms to the constant flow of patrons trickling into the shop for an afternoon snack — a ribbon.
"Oh, right. A ribbon cutting? I'm sure I have one in the back," David Larsen shrugged as he strode into the shop's back space, emerging victorious with a length of red packaging ribbon and a pair of scissors.
Handing the scissors to Feiner, David Larsen smiled as the two men posed for several clicking cameras. When the flashes faded, David Larsen dropped the still-intact ribbon. "Are we going to cut it?" asked an onlooker. David Larsen shook his head. Why mar a perfectly good ribbon that he could use later to garnish one of the store's fancifully-packaged novelty items, such as goodie baskets overflowing with truffles and the solid chocolate ladies' legs ordered annually by Manolo Blahnik's corporate offices during the holiday season?
David Larsen's thriftiness makes sense. "Good chocolate is expensive," said David Larsen as he explained 5th Avenue Chocolatiere's business strategy. According to David Larsen, many sweet shops struggle to break even. But 5th Avenue Chocolatiere's "trifecta formula," consisting of children's birthday parties, corporate and retail, allows David and Shelley Larsen, along with brand owner Joe Whaley, to have a "nice business."
"We have bigger plans for the store," David Larsen said about 5th Avenue Chocolatiere, which came to Scarsdale after he and Whaley decided to open a third sweet shop in addition to the store's already-existing locations in Manhattan and Valley Stream. "The formula that works here in Scarsdale would work in any community like it."
David and Shelley Larsen hope for their business to eventually spread across Westchester, opening its doors to customers in towns such as Yorktown and Bedford. Before they can do that, though, the Larsens have to meet Scarsdale, Greenburgh and Hartsdale's already-busy demands — a feat they're more than happy to accomplish.
"We've done 10 parties, and we have 35 more booked," said David Larsen about the shop's in-store birthday celebrations, which allow youngsters to mold and decorate their own chocolates from a 250-pound melting vat after an educational tour of the in-house factory explaining the manufacturing process.
In addition to 5th Avenue Chocolatiere's trifecta business approach, what's the store's fourth secret source of success? Plain old-fashioned perseverance, according to David Larsen.
"It turns out that Shelley's an absolute bulldog," laughed David Larsen about his wife. "The only person who's more intense than her is Joe Whaley. That guy would be on Central Avenue throwing truffles at passing cars if he could."
With an official kosher certification and their first big corporate order (ironically enough, from a dentist's office), 5th Avenue Chocolatiere is set to take Westchester County by storm.
And if the store's continuing customer growth is any indication, it was a smart decision on David Larsen's part to keep that ribbon intact. He's going to need it while packaging his many orders.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere, 450 Central Park Ave., 914-713-8879,www.scarsdalechocolate.com; Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, to 4 p.m. Sunday.