Businesses of Banyule presents Chocilo Melbourne, Ivanhoe
Sweet stuff all in the family at Chocilo
In the cosy warmth of the family-run Chocilo café and retail store tucked into a little pocket of shops on Waterdale Road, owner-operators Bruce and Joanne Nethercote rotate the selection of confections in the window display as soon as a new batch comes in from their Chocolatier factory up the road. Current hot pick? The Jam-jelly donut chocolates.
It’s a small café and they greet customers warmly, delivering coffee to nearby businesses, so it’s easy to forget the café is the side arm of the successful Chocolatier Australia brand, which exports internationally.
The family-run business, which made its start in Diamond Creek in 1985, now employs roughly 70 staff, exports all across Australia (and the world), but gives back to the local community in a big way.
Bruce and Joanne source everything in the shop from Melbourne suppliers – from the milk (St David’s Dairy in Fitzroy), to coffee beans from Supreme in Abbotsford.
Family owned and operated since the chocolate factory was founded by Joanne’s brother David, the café has been in Waterdale Road since 1989.
Joanne says one of the biggest changes she’s seen in their 34 years of business is a greater demand for darker chocolate.
“The health-conscious crowd eats it for the anti-oxidants.”
Husband Bruce agrees, adding “there’s no middle-market for chocolate anymore.” Meaning – you have the generic Cadbury’s or Nestles and then you have the hand-crafted luxury products such as theirs.
“It’s an affordable luxury,” he adds, as a local pops in for a couple of sweet treats to take away in a beautiful little box.
Chocilo may present as a humble café, but they do an enormous amount for the local community. Often giving local high-school students their first part-time job, many of those staff have remained with the business for decades.
And with gold coin donations from purchases at the shop going to the nearby Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Heidelberg, Bruce and Joanne have helped raise over ten thousand dollars for the Centre.
“We see a lot of people who come down for a coffee or to buy a gift for those undergoing treatment, and we thought that cancer has touched many of our friends and family, so it’s an important part of our business.”
Joanne and Bruce have run the café together for almost three decades – with daughter Georgia now manning the store part-time, too.
“We love serving the local community. We see a lot of folks from the nearby Blue Cross facility, and they come here for a trip out which is really nice.”
Aside from luxurious hampers and hand-crafted piñatas (a little too special to be smashed!), Chocilo makes a mean chocolate footy boot in your chosen team colours.
“These are really popular for birthdays” says Joanne, showing me the small kitchen out the back where they host kids birthday parties.
“The kids love it – it’s $34.95 per head and they get to play in the chocolate kitchen out back, do some chocolate making, and take home a special bag filled with chocolates.”
Of course – who wouldn’t want to play in a chocolate kitchen for their birthday?
Visit Chocilo at 244 Waterdale Road, Ivanhoe North