First Look: Chocolate Café Express
Chocolate Café Express is sweetening up South High Street in the Brewery District. But there’s plenty more than the name might imply, with a menu that also includes light, fast lunch options for the neighborhood and (near) Downtown crowd.
An expansion of Fifth by Northwest’s Chocolate Café, the express setup takes over the former home of Dough Mama’s short-lived second location at 730 S. High St.
Dough Mama’s work on the space, and its equipment, gave Chocolate Café Owner Lisa Boyle the ideal footprint to expand her business.
“I think the pandemic created a new restaurant model,” Boyle says.
While the café had offered carryout, delivery and catering before the pandemic, any option other than dine-in exploded during the pandemic.
Boyle believes that while there will always be room for the high-end restaurant experience – people will always want to connect over a special meal – the demand also grew for better quality carryout options.
Chocolate Café Express has no dine-in seating, so whether it’s a coffee and scone in the morning, a quick lunch or a sweet-tooth fix in the afternoon, it’s all out the door.
Boyle wanted to seize the opportunity to try a new model that she might not otherwise have created had it not been for the pandemic.
She’d always kept an eye on the real estate market and wasn’t necessarily looking specifically at the Brewery District, but when she happened upon the space, she knew it was the right fit. It checked multiple boxes.
“This is the kind of community that supports a business like this,” Boyle says.
But she also needed more space specifically for her bakers, and the address came with the needed equipment.
There’s no shortage of baked goods to be found at Chocolate Café Express. The display case is filled with scones, muffins, sugar cookies, brownies cakes, buckeyes, dipped strawberries and more tantalizing sweet treats.
In the savory department, the express café will serve a pared down menu from the flagship location. There are sandwiches, wraps and grilled cheese, along with a handful of salads and two soup options every day.
“Our menu is pretty light because we want people to eat dessert,” Boyle says.
The menu is not only designed for dessert-eating, but to come out quickly and travel well.
Boyle is excited to open up shop and get a feel for the neighborhood, the customer base and what they want to see out of the new café.
Chocolate Café Express celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday, September 15. Current hours are 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily.
For more information, visit chocolatecafecolumbus.com.