It didn’t take much convincing for Nancy Zajac to accept her new job managing an artisanal chocolate shop.
“I saw the posting for a chocolate shop opening in Guelph so, my interest was piqued, naturally and I applied,” she said. “I got the position and was brought up to Quebec City where I was welcomed with open arms.”
Zajac is the manager of the new Chocolats Favoris shop in the Clair Marketplace.
“I have seriously been a chocoholic since childhood,” said Zajac. “I loved to bake and create and you can’t go wrong with chocolate. It’s part of who I am. It’s a match made in heaven.”
Zajac grew up in Kitchener and now lives in Elmira with her husband.
“I am a local girl and in previous lives Guelph was part of my district so I enjoy the Guelph area and like the people from Guelph,” she said. “It was not hard to find a fantastic team here let me tell you. It’s just a beautiful, happy, wonderful place and I want to be a part of it.”
Chocolats Favoris started in 1979 as a small artisanal chocolate shop in Lauzon, a suburb of Quebec City. Its notoriety grew in the mid 90s when it introduced chocolate dipped ice cream. It remained a popular but relatively small business until video game entrepreneur Dominique Brown took it over in 2012.
“I acquired three stores in the Quebec Region,” said Brown. “The goal was to reinvent the world of chocolate experience. I opened another store in 2013 and from the there the business exploded from four stores to 34 stores in five years with more than 1,200 employees.”
Their goal is to grow to 40 shops by the fall of 2018. They have one store in Victoria, B.C. but most of their shops are in Quebec. Guelph was identified as a prime location for expanding the business outside of Quebec.
“We were looking at expanding into the Ontario Market,” said Brown. “The first store was in Orleans, a suburb of Ottawa, and Guelph is our fourth location in the GTA. Lou is building an incredible team in Ontario.”
Lou Struminikovski is the director of operations for Ontario and western Canada. He joined Zajac during the soft opening of the Guelph location last weekend and will be there during the official grand opening on Saturday.
“Chocolats Favoris is French for ‘my favourite chocolate’,” said Struminikovski. “What we are most proud of is our artisan chocolates that are handmade in our factory in Quebec City. We also have our 12 real chocolate flavours that we dip our soft ice cream in and they are delicious. There are no added oils or preservatives. It is natural chocolate.”
They have soy bars for customers that are lactose intolerant as well as vegetarian and vegan options. Customers are encouraged to sample all the flavours at the tasting station and to buy a can of their custom fondue to experiment with their own creations at home.
Zajac is excited about the grand opening Saturday April 28 when she can share the experience she has everyday when she goes to work.“When you open the door you instantly get happy because your senses come alive,” she said. “How can you not be happy smelling chocolate? My nieces and nephews, my sisters and my husband - children of all ages are already asking me, ‘Are you bringing anything home?’”