Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. will soon reopen its flagship Chocolate Experience store, located in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square.
The space is designed to elevate the customer experience and provides new ways to celebrate the craftmanship of chocolate making. Visitors can expect fresh chocolate, warm waffle cones and handmade hot fudge. San Francisco Mayor London Breed will attend the official ribbon cutting ceremony at a grand reopening celebration on May 20.
"We are thrilled to unveil the Chocolate Experience Store to our community of chocolate lovers and hometown of San Francisco," said Justin Reese, VP of retail and e-commerce at Ghirardelli. "Our premium chocolate, the historic architecture and the stunning views have made Ghirardelli Square a favorite San Francisco destination. The interior redesign brings a new vibrant experience to the classic space."
Reopening day festivities will include family-friendly entertainment with live music, balloon art and face painting. The first 170 customers in line will receive a free World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae to celebrate the brand's 170th anniversary. Ghirardelli executives, Eight Inc. and Jamestown property management representatives, along with Kate Sofis, executive director of San Francisco's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, will join Mayor Breed in kicking off the event.
"Ghirardelli Square is one of our city's most beloved destinations that tourists and residents always come back to," Breed said. "We know that COVID had a significant impact on our tourism industry, and as we continue to recover, it is critical to establish new experiences for everyone to enjoy. Ghirardelli has helped bring people to San Francisco's waterfront for almost 130 years, and they will continue to do so with the reopening of their Chocolate Experience store."
The renovated space is in the Pioneer Woolen Mill building, which was built in 1864 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. As guests walk through the Chocolate Experience store, they can watch Ghirardelli chocolatiers hand-craft the brand's signature hot fudge from three ingredients: pure Ghirardelli chocolate, milk, and vanilla. Guests can also personalize a tin of signature chocolate squares from the brand's largest pick-and-mix yet, as well as enjoy a World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae in the store's Alcatraz room while taking in the San Francisco Bay.
Other store offerings include fresh chocolate bars, made with almonds and hazelnuts roasted in-house and pure Ghirardelli chocolate flowing from tempering taps; ice cream served in handmade waffle cones and bowls; and hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries.
The redesigned Chocolate Experience store blends modern design elements, like a custom inlay of the Ghirardelli golden eagle and tilework from San Francisco-based Heath Ceramics, with core elements of the historic structure, like the original red brick walls and timber beams. Also on display are hand-painted murals and a collection of vintage Ghirardelli advertising dating back to the company's beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century.
"In collaboration with the Ghirardelli team, we aimed to blend historic elements of the iconic space with new and engaging components of the Ghirardelli retail environment," said Edmond Kuan, managing principal of Bay Area-based design firm Eight Inc. "The space captivates visitors with incredible views, interactive features, and a bit of nostalgia — all a great backdrop for enjoying Ghirardelli chocolate."
Reopening the Chocolate Experience Store marks the conclusion of the first of three renovation phases at Ghirardelli Square. The second phase of the project — a renovation of Ghirardelli's Original Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop — is slated to begin in January 2023 and wrap up by May. A pop-up store in place at the square during the renovation process has helped to limit disruption to the visitor experience and Ghirardelli's business operations.