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Popular downtown Courtenay businesses reopen with 'continuity'

CHOCOLATIER CEDRIC ARISS, owner Jorden Marshall and general manager/kitchen supervisor Michele Henry (left to right) show off Hot Chocolates and Cakebread Artisan Bakery
CHOCOLATIER CEDRIC ARISS, owner Jorden Marshall and general manager/kitchen supervisor Michele Henry (left to right) show off Hot Chocolates and Cakebread Artisan Bakery's new look. The well-known Fifth Street businesses reopened this week after closing for renovations for three weeks.
— image credit: Renee Andor

Chocolate and baked treat lovers can once again get their fix at Hot Chocolates and Cakebread Artisan Bakery in downtown Courtenay.

The well-known joint businesses at 368 Fifth Street reopened this week after closing for renovations for three weeks.

With new paint, refinished floors and a different layout, the interior looks quite different than it did weeks ago.

Owner Jorden Marshall noted a main goal behind the "facelift" was to create a better connection between the chocolate shop and bakery.

We "opened up the space so that Cakebread and Hot Chocolates worked more like one business under one roof," said Marshall, adding he opened the bakery when Hot Chocolates moved up Fifth Street into this space in 2006, but he was limited in floor plan options to really connect the two. "So that was always in the back of our minds that we wanted to make the flow work between both sides."

Counters, cabinets and showcases were moved around, and in some cases counters were lowered, to make the space feel more accessible and airy, according to Marshall.

He also noted the colour scheme now goes all around the shop to ensure continuity between the two sides.

New coffee equipment was installed and a brand new gelato machine just arrived in Vancouver all the way from Italy, which Marshall plans to go pick up sometime in the next couple of weeks.

He added chocolatier Cedric Ariss — who has worked there for five years creating new truffle flavours among other things — has been busy coming up with some new gelato flavours to go with the new machine.

However, Marshall noted the renovation work is not complete.

"It's a work in progress. We're debating some things before we put the final touches to it," explained Marshall. "When we've decided how everything's going to be we are setting all the counters in concrete, and that'll be done off-site and then polished to a terrazzo finish, and they'll be brought in and they'll be probably some sort of a dark brown with glass and stones aggregate in them, and it's all cut and surfaced — it's beautiful."

He expects work to be complete by Christmas and plans to hold a grand opening once it's finished.

Staff have asked for customer feedback and Marshall noted most of it has been positive. He is even considering some major suggestions, such as moving some showcases out towards the front and installing the new gelato machine in the back instead of its chosen spot closer to the centre of the store.

He said he appreciates the community support throughout the renovations so far, and noted the updates are important to the business — and what it's able to offer to the Comox Valley.

"We want to set something for the Comox Valley to enjoy that you would find if you were in any major centre in the world," he said. "It's fun for us, and it's fun for the crew that works with us, and our customers also let us know this could be on Robson Street — this could be on any street in North America or in Europe and it would hold its own."

For more information on Hot Chocolates visit www.hotchocolates.ca, and for more information on Cakebread Artisan Bakery visit www.cakebread.ca.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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