Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates expands its production kitchen while fielding questions

WICHITA — Beth Tully of Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates has more news this week along with some reassurance for customers.

First, the news.

Since opening her production kitchen at 3540 N. Comotara in 2008, Tully says she hasn’t had any neighbors next door. She decided to move into that 2,500 square feet, the bulk of which she did Monday.

“It is appalling actually to think all the stuff we moved next door used to be in this 2,500 square feet,” Tully says of her existing space.

The new space will be dedicated “to a couple of projects that we’ve always just done on the fly,” Tully says.

Shipping has been handled at Cocoa Dolce’s Bradley Fair store where there’s a mere 400 square feet of production area behind the retail portion of the store.

“It’s amazing we were able to do it that way for as long as we have,” Tully says.

As of Nov. 25, shipping will be done at the new space.

Tully also will use the additional space to help with her new Cocoa Dolce that’s opening in the Prairiefire development in Overland Park in 2014.

“That’s just in anticipation of everything that’s coming down the road next year,” Tully says.

She has paused to step back and admire the organization that the new space allows.

“Look how grown up this looks,” Tully says. “This is no fly-by-night deal anymore.”

Even though Tully is expanding, some customers are concerned she’s closing.

This week, she took down the Cocoa Dolce sign at the Bradley Fair store in anticipation of a new sign with her new brand.

“We have had people actually pull up in front of the store … and come in to find out whether we’re closing,” Tully says. “I’ve got this little group of people panicked. None of us dreamed taking the sign down would indicate to anyone that we were leaving.”

After the stucco is repaired and painted, the new sign will go up, most likely late this week or early next week.

“We are not closing,” Tully says. “We are not going anywhere.”