The first Latin American–inspired chocolate store in the Bay Area has changed hands and is now owned by its first employees, Jesus Chavez and Linda Sanchez.
“There is a rich history here,” says Chavez. “Having been part of it from the beginning, and connected all these years to Casa de Chocolates, I am proud to partner with Linda Sanchez and continue its legacy.”
Since 2012, when Amelia Garcia and Arcadia Gallardo first opened the doors to Casa de Chocolates at 2629 Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, this unique shop has honored the Mesoamerican origins of chocolate with high-quality chocolate products and desserts and creative Latin American–inspired flavor combinations. Garcia, who continued to run the shop for over a decade, is pleased to pass the molino (the traditional baton used to whip up chocolate drinks) as well as the shop’s keys to Sanchez and Chavez.
“Linda and Jesus are rooted in community and are committed to continuing the legacy of Casa de Chocolates while making it their own,” Garcia says.
These new co-owners are not new to the shop. Sanchez and Chavez first became involved as volunteers in 2011 when Casa de Chocolates was just a pop-up. They were UC Berkeley undergraduate students at the time and eager to learn from their mentors, who began teaching them about the history of chocolate, the chocolate business model, and chocolate and dessert- making skills as the two became employees at the shop. Sanchez helped run the kitchen for over six years, learning the recipes (like the champurrado below) that have delighted the Casa’s customers.
“I am excited and humbled for the opportunity to be entrusted with Casa de Chocolates,” says Sanchez. “In this next stage of growth, we will continue to prioritize our commitment to elevate the Indigenous roots of chocolate, using the highest quality of sustainably sourced and organic ingredients, and partnering with mission-aligned entrepreneurs for business collaborations.”
Departing owner Amelia Garcia says that throughout its history, Casa de Chocolates has remained grounded in honoring the profound history of chocolate while sharing and celebrating Latin American culture. She’s also proud that Casa de Chocolates will remain a family-owned business in the hands of stewards that come from the local immigrant, Latinx, and Indigenous communities.
Read our 2012 story that covered Casa de Chocolates (along with other local purveyors) shortly after the shop first opened.