Two women trained as engineers are opening up a dessert shop called Chocolaterian on Atwood Avenue this fall.
“We’re hoping to bring a little bit of a European style and feel of a patisserie to the East Side,” said Kimberly Vrubley, who is starting the business with Leanne Cordisco.
Chocolaterian is an expansion of their Madison-based wholesale business, which Cordisco founded in 2009, and whose key product is Christine’s Gourmet Toffee.
The success of their line of toffee allowed them to start the patisserie, Cordisco said.
Cordisco got her big break after a Hollywood production company found her bacon toffee online and bought 300 bars of it to give to its clients. Christine’s Toffee eventually ended up in the swag bags at last year’s Emmy Awards.
As a result, Cordisco spent three days in Hollywood, doing press and getting to meet and greet TV stars.
“People clamor to get into these events because it really does change your business,” she said. “The increase in sales after the Emmys was what allowed us to consider doing this big expansion that we’re doing.”
Chocolaterian is going into the old Schenk-Huegel uniform shop, and will have two addresses: 2004 Atwood Avenue and 2005 Winnebago Street.
Cordisco calls the Schenk-Huegel building a hidden gem. “There are many people who have lived on the East Side their entire lives who have never been in this building because they didn’t buy uniforms, so they don’t know how amazing this space is. It’s like a little treasure. It’s like time forgot this place.”
The contractors and subcontractors have been treating the building as a restoration, uncovering some of the original architectural aspects that had been buried under layers of renovation.
The 44-seat cafe and retail outlet will serve beer and wine as well as coffee. Chocolaterian will offer a small number of savory dishes, like quiche and crepes, possibly a cheese plate, Cordisco said.
Mostly, Chocolaterian will focus on using chocolate in different ways. It will serve individual chocolate cakes and chocolate fondue, along with caramel fondue, Italian cannoli, French macaroons, various cookies, flourless chocolate cakes, and chocolate tortes.
Cordisco and Vrubley hope to have Chocolatarian open on Oct. 11 or Oct. 18. The hours will be 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
Cordisco ran a French cafe in Pennsylvania for a year and a half, while she kept a day job in biomedical engineering. Vrubley is a quality engineer.
At Chocolatarian, Cordisco will assume the role of chief cook and candy maker. Vrubley will do some baking and handle the business end. They’ve also hired two pastry chefs.
“Over the years I have always kept my hands in kitchen work because it’s who I am, what I was put on this planet to do,” Cordisco said.
Smiley’s II debuts
Madison’s first Colombian restaurant, Smiley’s II, was set to open Friday at 1272 S. Park St.
It replaces Mi San Juanito, a small Mexican deli, bakery and grocery store, that opened in December next to Taj Indian Restaurant.
Victor Molina, who is managing the restaurant for his cousin, said that his cousin owned Mi San Juanito.
The cousin, who also runs a Smiley’s in New York (hence Smiley’s II), is shy and prefers to remain anonymous, Molina said.
To his knowledge it is the city’s first Colombian restaurant. Molina characterizes Colombian food as similar to Mexican food, but not as spicy.
The restaurant is going to start with 40 seats and possibly add more in the coming weeks, Molina said.
It is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The phone number is 608-257-1884.
The 60-item menu features steak, roasted chicken, seafood and a children’s menu.
Molina is not sure why his cousin chose Madison for a second restaurant. “It’s a nice city. Nice town. Nice and quiet.”
DLUX, a swanky but moderately-priced burger, sandwich and cocktail spot, opened Tuesday at 117 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., where Ocean Grill used to be. The kitchen is open 11 a.m. to midnight. The phone is 467-3130.