GRAND ISLAND — The success story of the Chocolate Bar will continue to be written, just by different authors. The chapter written by its founder, Sharena Arriola Anson, is complete.
Elizabeth and Perry Schutz have been the owners of the popular downtown business since July 15.
Elizabeth is very familiar with the Chocolate Bar, having worked there seven of its eight years of operation. Elizabeth, 28, has often told Arriola Anson there was nowhere else she’d rather work.
In opening the Chocolate Bar in November 2011, Arriola Anson brought together her main passions — design, entertaining, baking and cooking.
But since then, employees such as Schutz have helped set the direction for the business, she said.
Over the last couple of years, Elizabeth Schutz has served as general manager. She has handled much of the operation, while Arriola Anson was busy baking.
Arriola Anson expects that much of what the Chocolate Bar is will remain. The new owners will take some things to the next level, she said.
Expect to see more live performances.
Perry, who has been in a lot of bands, likes the music potential of the Chocolate Bar. Open mic night is on the third Thursday of the month, and bands will be booked on weekends. Local comedian Sawyer Hunt is helping Perry Schutz with the open mike night.
The new owners will devote more attention to business catering, and building relationships with other businesses. For a party, the Chocolate Bar can hold up to 250 people.
Customers, meanwhile, will still be able to order such favorites as almond butter rainbow cake, old-fashioned chocolate cake and Cuban latte.
Perry Schutz, 29, is an electrician. They have been married three and a half years.
Elizabeth Schutz will enjoy the opportunity to keep providing Grand Island with “something a little different” and “a little unique.” She likes hearing compliments about the place from customers. “Being a part of that definitely has been the most rewarding thing,” she said.
A lot of cities have “fantastic downtowns,” Schutz said, listing Kearney and Hastings.
“To just see it grow has been amazing,” she said, referring to Railside.
“Essentially I started the Chocolate Bar because I was helping my husband in construction, and I felt it was time for me to invest in my own thing,” Arriola Anson said.
She and her husband, Amos, had purchased the building three years earlier. They “saw the potential in downtown, and it’s really cool just to see how far it’s come in the past eight years,” Arriola Anson said.
“This was a dream come true,” she said of the Chocolate Bar. She had an idea, and she made it happen. “I’m very proud of everything that happened here.”
She will be helping her husband again, going back into construction and development.
She will get her real estate license again. “I had to let it go, but I’m going to get it back.”
Together, they will develop downtown buildings and build apartments.
The more living spaces you have downtown, “the more people you have downtown to support the local businesses,” Arriola Anson said. She wants to make sure that businesses like the Chocolate Bar continue to attract customers.
“So I guess you can say I’ll still be working for the Chocolate Bar, but on the other end of things,” Arriola Anson said.