Downtown Orillia is getting a new chocolate and ice cream shop this summer. The Chocolate Kingdom will open its doors at 33 Mississaga St. W. on June 1.
Shop owner Brianna Lawder started the business last year out of her house. Since then, there has been a rapid demand for her chocolate products.
“It has really blown up like crazy. The support has been overwhelming,” Lawder said.
The Orillia native and Orillia Secondary School graduate got her start with chocolate and baking at a young age.
“I’ve been baking my whole life. I used to work at Mariposa Market and I did my co-op there when I was in high school,” she explained.
“I’ve always loved working with chocolate, it’s always been my thing.”
Lawder decided to turn her passion into her own business once the COVID-19 pandemic left her out of work.
“I was trying to find jobs which was really difficult with COVID, so I basically decided to do my own thing,” Lawder said.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own my own business, so my fiancé and I thought it would be a good idea to start with hot chocolate bombs, and then we moved to making our own chocolate, our own chocolate bars, and anything and everything chocolate,” she explained.
The Chocolate Kingdom will be the home to Lawder's popular 12-inch cupcakes, chocolate bars, 20 different types of brownies, and a soft-serve ice cream bar with more than 25 toppings.
“We are going to have a huge variety of ice cream and toppings, so people can come and load it up and customize it to how they want it,” Lawder said.
The shop's ice cream is being supplied by a dairy farmer located just outside of Orillia.
“We are trying to stay local as much as possible - pretty much everything we are buying is from other small local businesses. Even the equipment we are buying is from local businesses who need the help right now,” Lawder said.
“It is a lot cheaper to go buy ingredients from a big bulk store, but it’s better to support our families and friends who live here, especially with COVID going on and everyone closing down," she explained.
While most local businesses have taken a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawder is confident her business will be a success.
“The support that we have had here in Orillia has been massive. Everyone has been coming back to support, and everyone has been helping to spread the word about our business,” she said.
Despite a crowded market of other chocolate and ice cream shops in Orillia, Lawder says The Chocolate Kingdom will be able to deliver both a unique experience and unique products to its customers.
“When I go into an ice cream shop, I want to pick my own toppings and put whatever I want on it, and pretty much nowhere in Orillia lets you pick from a huge verity of toppings,” she said.
“We will be letting people pick as many toppings as they want without being charged a crazy amount. It’s going to be delicious and affordable.”