Christian Wong, a Chinese American owner of five Chocolati businesses in Seattle, started off as a corporate bee with a degree in Finance and Accounting from Seattle University. He left his corporate position to pursue an opportunity to own and operate a retail business full-time, specializing in confectionary treats.
“I’m not a chocoholic, but I like chocolate,” says Wong, who attended Ingraham High School and graduated in 1994. He started the company ten years ago with the idea that chocolate cafes would be the new trend. His company started off selling high-quality chocolates for wholesale to corporations and hotels. Today, Wong boasts three Chocolati cafes in Wallingford, Greenlake, and Greenwood; a cart in the downtown Seattle Public Library, and a factory and factory outlet on Aurora Avenue in Seattle.
Chocolate cafes are common and a popular way for people to spend their leisure time in Europe, Wong explains. Chocolati uses an Epicurean technique of hand-dipping, a very slow and tedious process that produces high-quality chocolate. Chocolati is also introducing a new line called, Everything Chocolate, which will showcase ten unusual food items paired with chocolate. Wong says the chocolate will bring out the flavor in items such as bacon dipped in chocolate, bugs (yes, real insects!) or chocolate-dipped salmon, a hit in the Northwest.
“We’re still a work in progress, but in Seattle, I think it’s a combo between the weather and a love of coffee that we’re doing well,” says Wong. “Here, you can grab a coffee, a bagel, use the Wi-Fi, and grab a gift all at the same time.”
Creating awareness for his team and offering charity to others is a part of Chocolati’s mantra. Chocolates for Change is a part of the confectionary company’s program of giving and volunteer efforts. They also coordinate Sack Lunch Nights where dozens of meals are passed out to people in need.