Chjoko is an artisanal chocolatier, store and cafe in Kruununhaka. They’re passionate about handmade chocolate and ice cream. Established in 2005, Chjoko has operated out of the same premises on Liisankatu in Helsinki from day one. When you open the cafe door, you can quickly sense the atmosphere typical of the Kruununhaka neighbourhood: like that of a small village, with a strong sense of community. Chjoko has plenty of regulars. Those who visit frequently are greeted by name. New customers receive a warm welcome. The pralines and other chocolate treats on display entice you with their colours and flawless appearance. During our interview with the couple who own Chjoko, a regular customer brings them a smoked fish and a bottle of bubbly. Good service results in plenty of praise and return customers.
Mika Gröndahl, one of the owners of Chjoko, has had a long career in Helsinki’s finest restaurants. This versatile chef discovered he especially enjoys working on desserts. It’s hot in restaurant kitchens, which means it’s tricky to make chocolates. Mika Gröndahl decided to establish a shop specialising in handmade chocolates during the worst of the recession. “We set up shop in a prime location in a prestigious property in Kruununhaka. This was our way of showing what we believe in and what we can do. At first there were plenty of sceptics and we wondered how this would work out, but soon it became clear that people need something delicious when everything else feels grey,” he says.
The secret of their success – high-quality products and impeccable customer service
“From the start, our concept has been very simple. The secret of Chjoko’s success in a nutshell is first-class products combined with attentive service. We focus on details and listen to our customers’ wishes,” say Mika and Laura Gröndahl as one. Chjoko’s owners believe that they must charm their customers the very first time they visit. “You can only sell a bad product once. We always want to develop something new. Service means much more than just standing behind the counter and packaging products. We’ll recommend wines to pair with chocolates, and give home chefs tips for which chocolates to use to make the tastiest desserts,” say Laura and Mika Gröndahl.
Their mojito bonbon conjures up fresh flavours of mint and lime, and their rhubarb bonbon features just the right touch of acidity. The flavours of handmade ice cream are far more varied than those you’ll feed in a supermarket freezer. Chjoko is a strong believer in seasonal flavours. In addition to Christmas, there’s a great reason to delight a friend with a chocolate gift almost every month. “Some of our peak times for chocolate production are around Women’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter and spring graduation parties. After Christmas, there’s a period of a couple weeks when people for some reason or another try to avoid chocolate,” says Mika Gröndahl.
Handmade bonbons make for lovely desserts and are great gift ideas.
Responsibility and transparency are important to Mika and Laura Gröndahl. Ethically produced high-quality ingredients, respect for artisanal craftsmanship and minimising wastage are also good business, say both of the owners. They intend to launch the same concept at REDI. “A chocolate shop and cafe providing first-class products and relaxed yet attentive customer service will be an excellent fit for the modern and urban REDI shopping centre. Its customer flows and accessibility will certainly attract plenty more regular customers. We’ve long thought about opening up another store, and REDI is making this dream come true.”
You’ll be able to enjoy Chjoko’s handmade chocolate treats at REDI immediately once the shopping centre opens in autumn 2018.
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