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Chocolate factory sets up shop


Gerry Meisner is owner of what he calls one of the happiest places in Knoxville.

Meisner and his wife, Robbie, are co-owners of Schakolad Chocolate Factory, 10944 Parkside Drive in Knoxville, and enjoy making chocolates for the community.

“We rarely get any unhappy people in here,” Meisner said. “And if they are unhappy, they open the door and the smell of chocolate hits them and they start to enjoy themselves.”

Meisner said he handles the daily operations of the store while his wife continues to work full-time as a scientist in Oak Ridge.

“Friends sometimes call me Willy Wonka,” Meisner said with a chuckle. “I remind them he made candies while I work with chocolate.”

Schakolad Chocolate Factory, he said, attempts to be

“cosmopolitan.”

In addition to the more than 70-hand-made chocolates, they serve coffee and espresso.

“In the winter, we serve hot chocolate made from our chocolate,” he said. “In a week or so, we’ll be learning how to make a cold chocolate drink for the summer season.”

The business, which opened in February, also serves a couple of different flavors of gelato, an Italian ice cream.

“We haven’t yet found a gelato flavor that is a community favorite, so we try different flavors,” he said.

The specialty of the business, however, is chocolate — dark chocolate, white chocolate or milk chocolate. With the exception of 11 types of sugar-free chocolate for diabetic customers, Meisner said all his treats are made by hand.

“We make the centers here, then dip the candies in chocolate,” he said. “We’ve got everything from hand-dipped pretzels to ganaches. We have the liquers as well, chocolates with centers that have a little bit of alcohol for flavor.”

A local favorite in the chocolates is the cheesecake ganache, he said, although the raspberry ganache runs it a close second.

“We get a honey-glazed fruit from Australia, which is sweet by itself,” Meisner said. “Then we dip it in chocolate.”

All of the treats are made in front of the customers in the business showroom.

“We show everything out there,” he said. “The only thing we won’t do in front of others is make our secret recipe.”

The secret recipe is vital to some of the candies, including truffles and ganaches.

Meisner said one of the things that sets his business off from potential competition is the fact he and his two employees sculpt chocolate not only into candies, but works of art as well. In a display case in the store are examples of their art — chocolate basketballs, footballs and soccer balls; a miniature chocolate home; chocolate cups and backgammon and chess sets made out of chocolate.

“We can adjust the chocolate color to some degree,” he said. “We presented the Lady Vols an orange chocolate basketball after they won the

championship.”

Chocolate hasn’t always run in Meisner’s blood, he said. Up until a couple of years ago, he worked as an administrator in universities, including The University of Tennessee and most recently East Carolina University.

Opportunities changed for him there, and he returned to Knoxville to pursue business ownership.

“My wife and I looked around at the various opportunities available to us,” he said.

After examining the playing field, he said they decided to go into the chocolate business.

“This is really a unique concept and there’s not another store like it in Knoxville,” he said.

For more information, call 865-675-2626.

 

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