I still regret never having taken the Scharffen Berger chocolate tour at their 7th & Heinz Ave West Berkeley factory (I get teary reminiscing about the mimosa’s and chocolate pancakes at the neighboring Café Cacao … sniff). The Hershey Company acquired Scharffen Berger in 2005 and shuttered the doors of this historic location soon after. Seasoned E’villains may also remember Charles Chocolates prior it becoming the Clif Bar campus on Hollis. They offered tastings that paired their chocolates with wine and champagne! Another gourmet idea that failed to gain traction in the East Bay. We’ll be given another opportunity to support gourmet chocolate as it was recently announced that TCHO “New American Chocolates” will be moving to the Marchant Building that straddles the Berkeley/Emeryville Border along San Pablo.
Tcho (pronounced “choh!” and named after the phonetic spelling for the first syllable of the word “chocolate”) is packing up its SF Pier 17 waterfront factory and bringing its premium chocolate-making to the East Bay. “We looked extensively throughout the Bay Area and the Marchant Building in West Berkeley offered the ideal mixed use space for us,” noted CEO Andrew Burke in this SFGate article “We were able to combine manufacturing, warehousing, office and our retail store all into one larger location.” Tcho signed a 12-year lease for 49,000 sq. ft. (nearly double its 29,000 sq. ft. Embarcadero facility) and will consolidate all of its production, office and storage space, as well as eventually open up a larger retail shop.
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The address is peculiar. The Marchant Buildings previous address was 6701 San Pablo Avenue but was revised to 3100 in an agreement between the city of Emeryville & Berkeley. The building was initially built in 1958 as the headquarters of Marchant Calculators which built mechanical, and then electromechanical calculators. The space had been previously occupied by the University of California as a storage space but had been vacant for years until new owners LBA Realty renovated it and rebranded it as “Marchant-on-the-Greenway” as the Western-facing part of the property butts up to Emeryville’s “Greenway” Pedestrian/Bicycle corridor that traverses the entire City. Other tenants of the Marchant Building include LA Fitness, the University of California, Berkeley and Clif Bar according to SF Business Times.
The addition of Tcho to the area seems to bode well for the thriving neighborhood (Whether you prefer to call it “NOBE”, West Berkeley, Golden Gate or my favorite … “Broakleyville”). The area seems to be attracting other up-and-coming gourmet food producers, breweries, coffee roasters and an increasing array of eclectic art galleries. Also fortifying the transitioning neighborhood is the already underway construction of “The Higby” five-story, 98-unit mixed-use housing development on the corner of Ashby & San Pablo. Factory tours of their new plant will resume at the end of this month.
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