Allo! Chocolat: How a riverwalk inspired a chocolate shop.
A love for Friday evening walks and music transforms into a downtown destination for sweets.
Carrie and Roger Igielski have lived in Waukesha, Wis., for more than 30 years. They have two adult children who live in Waukesha as well as two incredible grandchildren. With the creation of the Riverwalk many years ago, the Igielski’s found it to be a beautiful place to walk and began making the downtown Freeman Friday Night Live free music nights a part of their weekly routine.
When an opportunity arose to have a business in the downtown, they jumped at it! That led to the September 2006 opening of “Allo! Chocolat,” which is French for “Hello chocolate!”
Determined to make the retail shop the “Sweetest Spot in Downtown Waukesha,” the Igelskis have worked hard to refine their processes and think creatively about producing high quality products that meet the requests of their customers.
“We produce a series of beautiful colorful artisan meltaways and truffles in a variety of shapes and flavors that rotate throughout the seasons,” the couple says.
As Carrie points out, “The chocolate business is a happy one — everyone comes in smiling and leaves smiling! Our customers are the best. They’re such a blessing to serve and I love hearing the stories about who they are buying a treat for.”
The Igelski’s enthusiasm and hard work has paid off.
“Our growth has been tremendous,” Roger says. “Initially, it was just the two of us and everything was dipped by hand, but we now have 17 employees. We expanded a year ago to add a classroom that we call the Allô! Chocolat Studio, where we teach a variety of chocolate-related classes.
“And we recently purchased our first 10-inch enrobing and cooling line (Hilliards), which is allowing us to produce some popular products in-house (covered nuts, mini pretzels, etc.) that we used to have to bring in. It is also helping us expand our wholesale offerings.”
The Igelskis aren’t sure what their next step will be, but as they say, “we have many ideas in consideration. We’ve even considered selling the business and transitioning into retirement, but we’re having so much fun in the meantime.”
(Editor’s Note:Roger’s answers in bold, Carrie’s in italics)
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?
Chunks of solid milk chocolate!
Dark chocolate mint meltaways.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A priest or an NFL football player.
If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?
Walt Disney — a creative visionary!
Joseph — never lose sight of your dreams.
What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?
The destruction of taste buds. Too many people continue to eat cheap chocolate — yuck!
The loss of freedom with government control on certain foods including sugar-related items.
What’s the last book you read?
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
The Science of Why People Buy.
What is your pet peeve?
People who say “irregardless” instead of the proper “regardless”. It’s re-ridiculous!
What excites you most about your job?
Being able to dream big and think creatively about new products and directions for our business.
What excites me most about my job is being a part of so many family traditions and hearing the sentiments that are attached to chocolates.