Tampa fans of William Dean chocolates won’t have to drive so far for their fix anymore. The decidedly upscale chocolatier will soon expand with a new plush space inside the also-upscale International Plaza mall.
An official announcement hasn’t been publicized yet, but Founder and Chief Chocolate Officer Bill Brown said the new store should be up and running in November, hopefully in time to capitalize on the holiday spending rush. William Dean already does about 20 percent of its annual sales in the 30 days before Christmas.
William Dean specializes in hand-made chocolates that are also hand-painted with elaborate designs. A new lineup this fall should include a chocolate “puzzle” that’s hand-painted with holiday-themed scenes. Since first opening a store in Largo, the production operations have moved to a new space in Bellaire Bluffsand supplies individual stores such as Datz in South Tampa.
“We’ve grown to the point that we have four full-time chocolatiers working away,” Brown said, thanks in part to favorable mentions around Valentine’s Day in the New York Times and, oddly enough, cameo appearances of the chocolates in movies like The Hunger Games. “We still get calls from people who remember our chocolates from a year ago in that movie,” he said.
Their new space at International Plaza will sit just outside the entrance to Neiman-Marcus in a former high-end jewelry and leather shop. They won’t produce chocolates there, but as the space retains all the display racks, Brown said it will take almost no renovations to open.