“The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop That Could”
by Frances Park & Ginger Park
After visiting Chocolate Chocolate in downtown DC, meeting the proprietors, and tasting their handmade truffles, you just can’t walk away without reading the memoir of this place.
In 1984, after much planning, stressing, and seeking of locations, the Park sisters finally opened the doors to Chocolate Chocolate. That first brisk January day was freezing, ripe with opportunity, and so strongly anticipated.
It was also devoid of customers – at least until a fire drill sent local worker bees in search of refuge from the cold.
I love reading stories of risk takers, people who want to try something they’ve never done before and have no clear track record to rely on for making something go. All they have is a really good idea, a reasonably smart plan for achieving it, and guts.
Lots of guts.
And in this case, Ginger and Frances also had each other. The daughters of a business man who had grown up dirt poor in Korea, the Park sisters inherited a legacy of dreaming big and working hard. And together they created something they felt would do their dad proud.
With chapters named for chocolate treats (Chapter 4 is titled Half-Moon Buttercream Dream), Chocolate Chocolate lets you live vicariously through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and reminds you there’s always something to look forward to. Even if it’s Chapter 10: A Cappuccino Cup.
Beyond the day to day frustrations and exhilarations of balancing budgets, running down renegade builders and hobnobbing with snobby industry reps, the Park sisters really let you walk with them through their own personal struggles. Not the least of which is beginning their side career as authors.
Reading this book is like making two new friends. Not to mention the train of customers that we come to love as Frances and Ginger do. Between Stella – the tender-footed chocolate rep who later came to work for Chocolate Chocolate – and Rafael, a handsome stranger bound for Rome, the pages are teeming with personalities who breeze in and out of the shop.
There’s “Kahlua Lady,” “Dr. Zhivago,” “The Landlord,” and “The Bulldog” – each with a story, whether real or imagined, and a taste for a particular item in the shop. Perhaps one of the most fun is following “Our Girl Friday,” the young woman who stops by just at closing time every Friday night, hurrying for the train to Philadelphia.
It was several years later that Girl Friday returned with three kids and a wedding ring from the fellow she’d been riding up to see each weekend.
All this is food for a chocolate lover’s soul, but more so it warms my heart. Building a blog and video series from scratch is not for wimps. But it’s my hope that as The Chocolate Tourist grows, welcoming readers and viewers from all around the world, we too will be an inspiration and an extension of the love that Chocolate Chocolate is to so many.
And let’s not forget the chocolate.
So if you haven’t guessed, I highly recommend this book! Read it! And next time you’re in Washington, DC, visit Chocolate Chocolate and tell them The Chocolate Tourist sent you. Maybe they will come up with a special nickname for you too.