Having a physical storefront was never a fully baked idea for Disset Chocolate. After launching late last year as an e-commerce business, owner Ursula XVII (17 in Roman numerals), like many during a pandemic year, thought an online business model would work best.
“I felt there wasn’t a necessity for a physical space because a lot of times when we go to chocolate shops, you’ll see they end up doing ice creams and coffees to make ends meet,” she said. “So in my head that equated to there must not make much sense to it.”
But after officially launching her e-commerce site, she had a large demand for a brick and mortar store, so she started looking earlier this year.
“It was really just listening to our customers and hearing an outpour of love and want for a store,” Ursula XVII said, who studied at the French Pastry School in Chicago as well as under acclaimed pastry chef Claudia Fleming at North Fork Table and Inn. “So that’s how I made a decision and now we’re going to try it.”
The new Disset Chocolate store, which will be called Atelier Disset, is right in downtown Cutchogue, not too far from the factory where all their products are made. With plans to open this weekend just in time for the Easter and spring season, Ursula XVII has been hard at work overseeing the construction of the interior.
“Really the space was just this one long rectangle of nothingness with outlets,” she said, describing the design of her store as black, white, simple and modern. “We have divided the space where the front of the store will have beautiful displays when you first walk in. You’ll see all sorts of things besides just our bon-bons. Now, at Easter we’ll have sculptures, too.”
In the back of the space, a wall with a glass panel will divide the storefront from the workshop so customers can see Ursula XVII at work. It will also be an area where she can host and teach workshops. She will still keep the off-site factory where some of the products will be made.
“We have our storefront, where you can buy products that will actually be exclusive to the shop,” she said. “And then you can see the workshops happening right behind us.” The shop will have a carefully curated collection of small batch chocolates for purchase, including the bi-annual Disset Signature collection, special holiday assortments, a seven chocolate bar collection, chocolate bombs, paint-your-own chocolate bar kits and signature bon-bars and cookies.
To celebrate the grand opening of the store, Atelier Disset is hosting a North Fork Chocolate Egg Scavenger Hunt. Scattered in stores all around the North Fork are seven large chocolate egg sculptures designed in various themes that reflect their location.
Hints as to where the eggs are are posted on the Disset Instagram page, and locations will be announced on March 27. Find all the eggs, post a picture of each on your own Instagram, tagging @dissetchocolate, the store where the egg is and including the hashtag #17chocolateEggHunt, and you will be entered in a raffle to win one of the eggs. Winners will be announced on April 5 on Instagram.
“I am Catalan and in my culture on Easter, your godfather gives you a chocolate sculpture,” Ursula XVII said, who felt like this scavenger hunt brings together her Catalan and American sides. “For me, this is showcasing how cool they can be.”
Another important element was the collaboration with the North Fork businesses where the chocolate eggs will be. “It was very important for me to not just put the eggs somewhere and call it a day,” she said. “I wanted the egg to represent where it’s going to be put, allowing [the business] to be just as excited about having it as we are.”
Atelier Disset is located at 28080 Main Road, Cutchogue and will open Saturday, March 27 at 11 a.m.