Megan Hile is taking another bold step with her Madison Chocolate Co.
She started making chocolates out of her home kitchen in 2010 and began commercial production 2012 by renting commercial kitchen space at RP Pasta. In 2014, she moved production to the FEED Kitchens on Madison's North Side to make her chocolates that she shipped to clients around the country.
So when she opened a small shop at the corner of Monroe and Glenway streets in 2017, she thought she would have enough space for years to come.
But with business booming, retail habits changing and supply chain issues unpredictable, Hile is once again expanding.
The chocolateier has announced that she plans to open a second location this fall in the Heritage Square Shopping Center at the corner of Whitney Way and Odana Road.
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Her quaint 1,100-square-foot Monroe Street location will remain open and get some breathing room while the new 3,200-square-foot shop will serve as a primary production facility for her gluten-free caramels and truffles and gluten free bakery products that can include brownies, cookies, bars and croissants. The space will also include ample storage, more room for shipping out packages, a 24-seat cafe and a drive-thru, since the building is the former home of an Associated Bank branch.
"Obviously people don’t like to get out of their cars anymore and some people have mobility issues or they have kids with them and don't want to haul them into a store. There's many reasons people will use a drive-thru," Hile said. "We were looking all over but this one just seemed right."
The new shop will be in the same shopping center as the Seafood Center and Nonno's Ristorante Italiano, is across the street from Hy-Vee, next door to West Side Swim Club and there are new apartments a block away on Odana Road with another 465 units under construction on the site of the former Westgate Mall along Whitney Way.
Hile said she began actively pursuing a second location in 2021 and it will likely mean adding four to eight employees to her staff of 14. She no longer will be forced to use a hallway in her Monroe Street store as a storage space.
"We're just so tight here. We thought we would have all the room in the world for so long," Hile said. "It’s going to be fun. I’m hoping to make (the new location) a nice community space."