Tease Chocolates closes Tacoma business and Stadium store

Tease Chocolates, one of the only sources of artisanal chocolate in Tacoma, will close the business and its Stadium District storefront at the end of the month.

Owners Topher and Julie Farrell announced the shutter on social media on Sunday.

“Thank you to all of you who have supported our small business from its beginnings in the spring of 2010 at The Old Rainier Brewery in Seattle, then its move to Vashon Island in 2011, to its arrival in Tacoma and the opening of our store in June. 2015,” they wrote. “We have made so many wonderful friends and will miss each and every one of you.”

The positions were widely shared, with many locals recalling frequent visits for bags of creamy caramels in flavors like ghost chilli, lavender, cherry and lapsang souchong or gift boxes of meticulously crafted candies – those of the chocolatier-inspired glossy-domed varietal Europeans. They also ground cocoa beans in-house for their bars, including the popular Salty Mermaid, a dark chocolate blended with caramel and sea salt.

In an email to The News Tribune, Topher Farrell confirmed the closure, adding that they had “done everything possible to maintain but the time has come”. Their lease at 610 1st Ave., just north of Stadium Thriftway and behind Salamone’s Pizza, is up for renewal this fall, he said.

Julie Farrell, who studied chocolate making online at Ecole Chocolat, a school in Vancouver, before landing internships at Seattle’s Theo Chocolate, ran the business solo, he continued. Although he had other work and outside projects, Tease’s sales had plummeted to the point that they could no longer sustain the couple of employees they had recruited over the years.

“There really isn’t much to say other than the obvious, which is that between the pandemic, the economy, rising raw material costs and all the other expenses – coupled with the fact that there’s been a light rail construction project outside our front door for about five years…” he said, also referring to the city’s challenges with crime and homelessness.

“My wife has been single-handedly running Tease Chocolates for over two years and there doesn’t seem to be any sign that things are going to get any better,” he said.

The Hilltop Tacoma Link extension began in 2018, but ran into a variety of hurdles, from unexpected complications with underground utilities to supply chain shortcomings. The issues have pushed the opening, originally slated for spring 2020, to next year and will cost at least $63 million over the original budget, The News Tribune reported in April. On September 9, Sound Transit said in a regular construction update that the Stadium connection works have been delayed at an indefinite date.

Cocoa, meanwhile, was one of the few commodities whose price fell at the start of the pandemic, especially as the situation worsened in Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa is grown. . It had rebounded in 2021, but a shift in supply and demand, compounded by inflation, led to higher prices and fewer consumer purchases of luxury goods like chocolate, according to a July report from Reuters.

In December 2019, a few days before Christmas, Tease’s shop ceiling leaked. Then the pandemic forced a pivot to online sales and curbside pickup.

The roller coaster of the past few years aside, Topher Farrell said Tuesday, “It’s almost impossible for a company like ours to survive as it is.”

The store will remain open until Friday, September 30. In addition to chocolate (all available, no special orders), they plan to sell everything from equipment to furniture.

TEASE CHOCOLATES

610 N. 1st St., Tacoma, 253-327-1860, teachocolates.com

Business hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12 p.m.-6 p.m., final closing on September 30.

Kristine Sherred joined The News Tribune in December 2019, after a decade in Chicago where she worked for restaurants, a liquor wholesaler and a food bookstore. She previously covered the food sector for Industry Dive and William Reed. Find her on Instagram @kcsherred and Twitter @kriscarasher.
Support my work with a digital subscription

Comments are closed.