Scarsdale residents David and Shelley Larsen have brought something sweet to Westchester County: 5th Avenue Chocolatiere, the newest candy shop on the block — or in this case, Central Avenue.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere is the Larsens' first foray into the candy business. In their prior lives, the couple had a clothing store on Madison Avenue and 90th street for eight years, and David Larsen spent an additional 30 years working in the military uniform fabric business.
So how exactly did the the couple decide to venture into the world of chocolate?
Four years ago, David Larsen met Joe Whaley, the 5th Avenue Chocolatiere brand's president, through a mutual friend in his military uniform business.
“My friend introduced me to his signature truffle, and I thought it was the best piece of chocolate I ever had," David Larsen recalled. "We stayed in contact, had a friendly relationship for another year and then Joe moved his factory to Valley Stream, opened up his second retail store and introduced the concept of children’s birthday parties."
According to David Larsen, six months passed and the store was thriving — selling large amounts of their confectionary delights while turning more party bookings away then they were accepting.
"It was an amazing hit," David Larsen said. "At this point, Joe and I discussed that Westchester would be the ideal location for the third store."
David and Shelley Larsen spent two years studying the manufacturing intricacies of tempering chocolate, as well as product marketing and merchandising at the brand’s other locations in Valley Stream and New York City.
David Larsen, who had spent years in the clothing retail business, found chocolate to be "a lot more forgiving."
“If you make a mistake with chocolate or a molded item breaks, you can re-melt it and use the chocolate again," David Larsen said. "This was better than when I had my clothing store. If a dress had a stain or a tear, it was useless.”
5th Avenue Chocolatiere might be new to Scarsdale, but not to a certain high-end shoe designer. When I visited the shop and factory, I noticed chocolate legs reminiscent of the saucy, stocking-clad lamp from “A Christmas Story.”
“The chocolate legs that we've molded are made of over five pounds of pure chocolate. Manolo Blahnik purchases similar ones at Christmas time, uses a hammer to break it up and then the retailers get to enjoy eating our delicious chocolate,” David Larsen said.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere is the latest candy store to open in the region, but considering the successful recent openings of nearby sweet shops such as La Renaissance Patisserie and All Good Things, what sets apart the Larsens' store from the pack?
A signature truffle made from a 35-year-old recipe, for starters, along with a trifold business approach that includes retail, children’s parties and corporate events, as well as on-site manufacturing.
David and Shelley Larsen want to make parties that much more interesting by applying an educational facet to the manufacturing and production of chocolate.
“We teach children where the product comes from and how it is manufactured, and we discuss different molds around the store,” Shelley Larsen said. “We have actual cocoa pods that the children get to touch, shake and smell. We also have a pod which we open so the children get to see the actual pod’s insides, along with cocoa beans, so they can see the different stages of the chocolate-making process,” she added.
The birthday parties are two hours in length and all hands on. Children will get the chance to fill molds with chocolate from a 250 pound melting vat and decorate their confections using different colored chocolate. Additionally, guests are given a tour of 5th Avenue Chocolatiere's in-house factory
The children also get to use a 30-foot “I Love Lucy” style machine to enrobe pretzels, graham crackers and Oreos cookies with chocolate so they can concoct their own creations.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere makes not only truffles, but also a variety of chocolate-covered items daily. Some of David and Shelley Larsen's favorites are milk, dark and white covered Oreos, pretzels, graham cookies and many other delicious items, including chocolate covered potato chips.
“We do a large volume of assorted platters, including our famous fruit platters that include bananas, pineapples, strawberries and any other items of your choosing,” Shelley Larsen noted.
So what goes into making a chocolate factory? It’s all about location, location, location. “The space where we are located now is 450 Central Park Ave. Before we moved in, the space was a Fitness Gym,” David Larsen said.
“We did a lot of renovations to make our store the way it is now," he added about the spacious location, furnished with tables and chairs for customers to sit and enjoy anything from homemade ice cream to a Snapple.
"We had to take down walls and make the place a bright factory. We looked for over two years at probably about 40 to 50 different locations until we found this one and felt that being next to Snip-Its, Gymboree and Scarsdale Dance was the ideal location for our chocolate concept."
5th Avenue Chocolatiere will have its grand opening on September 7th from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner will be present to cut the ribbon and welcome the shop to the community. And yes, there will be plenty of free chocolate samples for everyone.
The Larsen family, who has lived in Scarsdale for 13 years, are passionate about their community — and hope that a chocolate shop will bring lots of sweetness to their friends and neighbors.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere is located at 450 Central Park Avenue. The shop can be reached at (914) 713-8879.
The original version of this article incorrectly spelled the Larsen couple's surname and included a link to 5th Avenue Chocolatiere's former website. An updated link has been included, and the misspelling has been rectified.
Patch regrets the error.