Montreal

After 78 years, a bittersweet ending for Chocolats Andrée

For three generations, the family business 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.

For three generations, Parc Avenue chocolate shop has made everything in-house

Stéphanie Saint-Denis grew up in the shop that she has owned for the last decade. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC Montreal)

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.

The store was first opened in 1940 by the current owner's grandmother and great-aunt. (Submitted by Chocolats Andrée)

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.

Serge Larocque has been coming to the shop for 50 years. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC Montreal)

"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

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.