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Help us Reopen for Indoor Shopping

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Hello! We are The Xocolate Bar, a Latina-owned small chocolate shop. We make beautiful, delicious chocolates using organic fair trade cocoa and all natural ingredients. We have been in business for over 15 years at 1709 Solano Ave, Berkeley CA 94707. Since the pandemic, we have been limited to taking orders at the door and online at

“Why don't you guys just reopen?”

Basically we don’t have the space. We have been making artisan chocolates in an 800 square foot building since 2008. In the olden days, people could come in for a chat, browse our selection and sip on our legendary sipping chocolate while one chocolatier toiled in the back. All that changed when the pandemic forced us to shut down indoor shopping. Out of desperation to stay afloat, we pivoted to e-commerce and wholesale. We turned our sales floor into a mini warehouse and shipping center. That move saved us, as it presented our products to a nationwide audience. We now make four times the volume of chocolates we did before the pandemic, and have 10 people working here. In the same 800 square foot building.

“Why don’t you just find a shared commissary kitchen to work out of?”

Been there, done that…doesn’t work. Chocolate is an extremely temperamental substance. It can’t be around heat, moisture, or strong smells–all of which are very common in shared kitchens. 

“Why don't you just move into a bigger space?”

Affordable space is very hard to come by in the Bay Area. Especially space that is built out for food production. Colleagues in the chocolate business have spent upwards of $350,000 building out their spaces. We just don’t have that kind of money. You would think that we would be rolling in dough, after such a dramatic increase in production. Sadly, that is not the case. 75% of our volume is wholesale, meaning we are getting less than half the price you see on our website. 

Our slim profits have been spent on hiring and training new workers, giving living wages to long term staffers, and keeping up with the rising prices of high quality ingredients and supplies. We have taken out $38,000 in loans to update our dilapidated small scale equipment that is on the verge of collapse from overuse. But we need to invest even more if we are going to reopen for indoor shopping.

“Why do you need so much money to reopen?”

In order to let customers in, we have to make space for packaging and shipping elsewhere. So we basically need to remodel our entire building to make use of every square inch available.  For example:

Storage structures around the back of the shop that are airtight for storing packaging and shipping supplies ($10,000)
Reinforced walls in the kitchen for floor to ceiling shelving ($4000)
A partition wall to separate the packaging area from the sales floor ($3000)
An outdoor tankless water heater to gain precious floor space ($4000)
An electrical system overhaul to support space efficient high volume machinery ($4000)
Flooring ($2000)
Shelving ($1000)
Lights ($1500)


"This sounds like a lot of work. Why reopen at all?"

As I said earlier, our current sales are 75% wholesale, 25% retail. We need to boost retail to at least 50/50 for a more profitable, sustainable future. Discovery is a vital part of the indoor shopping experience. When customers can browse, business improves.

“How can I help?”

You can contribute to our gofundme, share the link with friends and family, shout us out on social media, send your friends and neighbors our way, and buy more chocolate during our slow season (May through October).

Your contribution will provide a Latina-owned small business vital access to capital. With your help The Xocolate Bar can keep growing.

About Malena Lopez-Maggi, owner of The Xocolate Bar

Malena's story
I have always loved making beautiful things with my hands. Before we started The Xocolate Bar, my partner and I were artisans working in metal, jewelry, glass, and ceramics. Looking for a new material to work with, we discovered chocolate and fell in love with its multi-sensory qualities.
I stepped away from the business in 2011 to pursue a master's degree in fine art with an emphasis on sculpture. Even though I got to experiment with seemingly infinite materials and processes, I eventually came back to chocolate.
For me, chocolate is the perfect form of artistic expression. It communicates love, gratitude, and the bittersweetness of life. It is in a constant state of renewal. I pour my creativity into all aspects of my business, including the visual and gastronomic presentation of the chocolates themselves. My business is not only a lifelong creative practice, but it helps me connect with a cherished community of foodies, artists, and small business enthusiasts.
Business Description

The Xocolate Bar is an artisan chocolate shop that specializes in beautiful and delicious bonbons and bars. We use organic, fair-trade chocolate and all-natural ingredients.
In addition to our brick-and-mortar store in Berkeley, CA, we sell directly to consumers nationwide through our website We also supply over 100 boutiques all over the country and even internationally.
I started The Xocolate Bar with my partner in 2006. As creative foodies, we were passionate about making unique recipes and interesting shapes. After winning Best in Show at the 2007 San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, we had the courage to open our brick-and-mortar chocolate shop in Berkeley CA in 2008.
Since then we have been constantly rethinking, refining and improving our products to make them the best possible versions of themselves. Thanks to our brilliant employees and loyal patrons, we have survived and thrived through the ups and downs of the economic landscape.
Now we are having growing pains. Your support will maximize the space that we have and give us the boost we need to get to the next level.


Malena Lopez-Maggi
Berkeley, CA

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