French Broad Chocolates Raises The Bar

Pictured are some of the luscious creations available at French Broad Chocolates in Asheville.

French Broad Chocolates is putting into motion a major capital improvement plan.

The plan includes the relocation of the Chocolate Factory to a 12,000 square foot facility in the RAMP Studios, expansion and relocation of the Creamery to the South Slope, and an improved guest experience at the Chocolate Lounge with the addition of seated table service.

Over the past decade, Asheville has seen French Broad Chocolates grow from a tiny two-person operation selling truffles at the French Broad Food Co-Op Tailgate Market to the multifaceted operation that it is today, with over 80 employees and over 3 million in annual sales.

Our success has not been without growing pains as our Chocolate Makers have struggled to keep up with production demands, both for chocolate used in our pastries at the Lounge and for the truffles and bars that make their way to shops and fans around the world.  The queue at the Chocolate Lounge stretches down the block on weekends as guests wait their turn for the desserts they’ve read about in national publications.

Starting this fall, visitors to our downtown dessert destination who want to enjoy a full-service experience will be seated in our ample dining room. The Chocolate Lounge is adding table service! Guests will still have the option to place to-go orders at the counter. The boutique next door remains a favorite local insiders’ tip, where it’s easy to dip in for an ice cream cone, box of truffles, cappuccino, or gift from our Chocolate Bar Library.

In the spring, our Chocolate Factory will be relocating to a 12,000 square foot facility in the River Arts Makers Place RAMP Studios (close to Ginger’s Revenge and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff) along our namesake, the French Broad River. This will enable an immediate increase in production from 18 tons annually to 50 tons annually, and expand the educational component of our mission with a classroom and enhanced tour program. The new factory will also contain an immersive retail experience, offering coffee, chocolate, and our handcrafted ice cream.

In the summer, the business will relocate our creamery (currently operating inside of the Chocolate Lounge’s Pastry Kitchen) to our South Slope facility at 21 Buxton Ave. Simply put, this will allow us to handcraft a lot more ice cream — tripling production in fact.  They will also be giving the retail space a makeover to accommodate an ice cream and dessert café with seating where guests can enjoy beer floats in a family-friendly location in the heart of Asheville’s craft brewery scene.

French Broad Chocolates embraces a “triple bottom line” business model which equally weighs people, planet and profits as measures of success. Through our intentional sourcing and business practices, we work hard to make a positive impact on our communities, both globally and at home here in Asheville.  

As we Increase chocolate production, we will be able to directly-source (and pay well-above commodity prices for) a lot more cacao from our farmers in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru and Brazil, whose values align with ours.  

More chocolate means more truffles and caramels, which means sourcing even more fresh, local ingredients from our farmer friends. When we expand our ice cream production, we will be able to purchase a lot more local, grass-fed dairy from Farm to Home Milk.

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About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.