Dallas-Fort Worth chocolatier gets crazy order for 50,000 chocolate bars
Dallas-Fort Worth chocolatier Kate Weiser recently fielded the biggest order in her chocolate-making career: 50,000 chocolate bars - stat.
The mega-order came from Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, who have an ongoing holiday promotion with a chocolate component.
Famous for her artisic hand-painted bonbons, Weiser says her typical customer at her three stores in Trinity Groves, NorthPark Center, and the Shops at Clearfork is more likely to buy a box of 10 or 15 chocolates, or maybe the large 35-piece collection if it's a splurge.
The hotel chain's request was unprecedented and required Weiser and her team to stop everything else they were doing to fulfill the order.
"We weren’t expecting an order of this magnitude, especially during the holiday season which is our busiest time," she says. "We start planning for the holidays in January, and this request came in September, which gave us only two months to turn it around."
Called Ticket to Wonder, the promotion involves some kind of giveaway where guests get chocolate bars, 50 of which have hidden tickets that can be redeemed for a free five-night stay.
Weiser had to produce an initial run of 45,000 chocolate bars that would be manufactured and shipped to Omni locations across the U.S.
All by the beginning of November.
Weiser ended up delivering a 3-ounce milk chocolate bar made with 42 percent Madagascar vanilla, with chocolate sourced from a Swiss company called Felchlin.
"Getting the chocolate was the first hump," Weiser says. "But I had just been treated to a trip to Felchlin to tour their facility. We usually use a French brand, but we loved their chocolate and were trying to figure out a way to incorporate it into our day to day."
They did a tasting, and the Omni loved the Felchin chocolate, she says. But the order required 10,000 pounds.
"At that time, I didn’t think about logistical nightmare of getting 10,000 pounds shipped to the U.S. on such a short turnaround," she says. "My distributors from whom I get my chocolate were all, 'Are you nuts? We might have 50 cases, and you’re going to need 1,000'."
But one reached out to Felchin's CEO and the company basically shipped over their entire supply.
“We basically sold them out and they had to send more,” says Weiser. "Felchlin is an incredible premium chocolate brand. They’re a little bit of a smaller company, but they are really up and coming."
The next big step: the actual physical production of the bars.
"Sometimes I feel like I have someone watching over us, because the timing couldn't have worked out better," she says. "Just a few weeks before, I had installed an insanely expensive automated bar-making machine that we'll be able to use to do some of the production on our bonbons. But we put it right to work. This Omni order was the first thing we used it for."
Even with the automated process, it still took two weeks at full capacity, 10 hours a day, to get the job done.
The promotion has been such a success that the Omni has already placed a follow-up order for another 5,000 bars.
“We’re going to figure that out,” Weiser says.