After 78 years, a bittersweet ending for Chocolats Andrée
For three generations, Parc Avenue chocolate shop has made everything in-house
It's the end of an era at Chocolats Andrée.
For three generations, the family business has been making chocolates every day in-house. From the candied orange peels and cherries to the caramel and cream fillings, everything is done by hand.
It's that old-fashioned way of doing things that the shop's loyal customers say they will miss.
The little shop is on Parc Avenue between Fairmount Avenue and St-Viateur Street, the dividing line between Mile End and Outremont.
For the last decade, Stéphanie Saint-Denis has been running the business started by her grandmother Madeleine Daigneault and great-aunt Juliette Farand in 1940.
When the shop first opened, there was little social acceptance for women running their own business. So, they chose a masculine name, André, but eventually added the extra e, making the name feminine when written.
An accountant by training, it was around her 40th birthday that Saint-Denis decided that "it was time to treat myself and take over the business," she said.
When she took over, she also purchased the building to ensure they wouldn't be pushed out by rising rents.
But now, Saint-Denis is the one selling the building. And with some key employees looking to retire, the timing seemed right to close up shop.
The announcement that they will closing at the end of the year has made an already bustling holiday season even busier.
"For the past 48 hours it's been a tremendous turnout," she said, adding that it helps to be busy at this bittersweet moment.
"Customers come in and tell us that we've been part of their family, part of their tradition and they want for one last time to see us, to come and to have our chocolate on their table," said Saint-Denis.
Just as the shop's ownership has passed on from generation to generation, for some loyal customers it's also a family affair.
"I came with my parents who bought chocolates here, so it's been 50 years," said Serge Larocque after picking up some chocolate-covered cherries.
"They're not too big, I like the texture," he said.
"It's sad. It's part of Montreal," said Robert Armstrong, who has been coming to the shop for 25 years.
He was buying chocolates to give to his loved ones for Christmas — making the trip all the way from Île-Perrot.
"The quality, the variety and the fact that it's a hand-made, home-made family tradition, it makes it great," he said.
Saint-Denis has spent much of her life in the shop since she was a child, doing her homework in the back and working there during the summer and between classes.
"It's home, it's family," Saint-Denis says of the shop.
She said she's not sure what is next for her, but that there's interest from other chocolatiers in the city of becoming partners.
"I think something positive can come out of this," she said.
Chocolats Andrée closes its doors for good on Dec. 31.
With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio