Chocolate Shop Shutter
Crestview chocolate shop Chocolaterie Tessa is closing because the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic has been too great for the business. “Change has come rapidly,” explained owner Tessa Halstead in an email newsletter. “Now we are faced with the reality that those sales are gone and unlikely to turn quickly. There is much we don’t know about our ‘return to normal,’ but we do know that continuing to operate is no longer financially possible.” Read the full email below. Its last day will be on Saturday, May 23, through which the shop will remain open with a sale on to-go orders and curbside pickups. Halstead, whose father was famed Dallas chocolatier Rex Morgan, opened the shop in 2014.
Lucy’s Fried Chicken Shutter
Lucy’s Fried Chicken’s Lake Travis restaurant is closed permanently, as reported by Austin 360. Owner James Holmes had kept the 2900 Ranch Road 620 North restaurant open for takeout in mid-March, but then decided to halt that service after a week. The other three restaurants — South Congress, Burnet Road, and Cedar Park — remain open for takeout and dine-in services. The Lake Travis restaurant opened in December 2015. Holmes opened the first Lucy’s in 2011 in South Austin.
Austin Restaurant Employees Test Positive for COVID-19
Another staffer at East Austin Mexican restaurant Joe’s Bakery has tested positive for COVID-19, as the restaurant shared on Sunday, May 17. The employee last worked on Friday, May 15, and the restaurant will remain closed temporarily for the following two weeks, during which the space will be sanitized. The first staffer who had tested positive for the virus happened on Friday, April 17, after which it sanitized the restaurant and had the employee self-isolate. The restaurant hasn’t reopened its dining room, opting to stick to to-go orders and curbside pickups.
Then, two staffers at the South Congress location of burger chain Hopdoddy Burger Bar tested positive for COVID-19. The first staffer tested positive on Sunday, May 10, and had last worked at the restaurant on Saturday, April 25. That employee self-quarantined while waiting for their test results, and the restaurant sanitized the space after finding out about the positive test that day. Then another staffer from the same location also tested positive on Friday, May 15, after which the chain briefly closed down location so that it could deep-clean the restaurant again and that its staffers could get tested. The restaurant is now reopened as of today, Monday, May 18.
Limited Austin Restaurant Merch
Austin shops are on deck at Merch Aid, a pop-up store featuring branded merchandise for small businesses designed by artists teaming up local small businesses and artists from advertising agency R/GA. This includes Mother’s Cafe by Courtney Leinfelder and Bouldin Creek Cafe by Steve Wolf. Both shirts are sold out, but prints are still available.
Depressed Cake Shop Pop-Up
The Depressed Cake Shop pop-up is back in Austin, where local bakeries — Dream Bakery, Kellie’s Baking Co., Tiny Pies, and Cupprimo — will sell mostly gray-colored baked items with pops of color to benefit National Alliance on Mental Illness Austin this month.
Gelato Shop’s Hazelnut Spread
Austin gelato shop Dolce Neve is now making and selling its own hazelnut spread for the first time ever. It’s made up of hazelnuts (much more than what’s typically found in Nutella, as noted by the press release), cane sugar, Fresco Chocolate’s single-origin cocoa mass, and cocoa butter. The $17 jar is available for purchase at Dolce Neve’s South First and East Fifth locations (as well as its Houston one), and Sour Duck Market.
Chocolaterie Tessa’s Closing Notice
Dearest Chocolaterie Tessa Customers and Friends,
I am sad to report that Chocolaterie Tessa is closing its doors. Saturday, May 23rd will be our last day offering curbside sales and pickup.
When I think about the best parts of my journey operating this business over the last seven years, it’s the relationships we’ve built together that stand out. I have team members who have been with me nearly every step of the way. I have suppliers and fellow business owners that have shared the ups and downs with me. You, our treasured customers, have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions and new babies with our chocolates. Through surgeries and loss and struggle, our chocolates have been there, too. I am, and will continue to be, enormously thankful for all of you who have loved our chocolates and wanted them to be a part of these pivotal moments in your lives.
Chocolaterie Tessa faces a difficult position today, similar to that faced by most artisan food businesses. The cost of quality ingredients, lovely packaging, skilled staff, and rent is high. Expenses continue to rise and companies like ours face heavy pressure to keep our prices low. Meaningful growth is required to simply tread water. Over nearly seven years in business, we delivered a consistently excellent product and caring customer service, won the world’s most esteemed chocolate awards, and tirelessly worked at varied marketing and advertising strategies in an effort to grow the business. Nevertheless, we have ended each year since 2016 with more or less the same ever so slight profits. That was our situation in a good economic environment. Change has come rapidly.
COVID-19 first hit our business with the loss of SXSW sales in early March. We had no idea at that time that we would be facing a prolonged collapse of wedding, event, wholesale and tourist business which accounts for the bulk of our summer revenue. Now, we are faced with the reality that those sales are gone and unlikely to return quickly. Nearly half of our annual sales come from holiday business which is also heavily influenced by holiday parties and corporate gifting. Those are at great risk as well. There is much we don’t know about our “return to normal”, but we do know that continuing to operate is no longer financially possible. It’s time for us to shut our doors while we can still say goodbye to everyone with dignity and goodwill. I can say on behalf of myself, my family, and my staff, we gave it our very best.
I am happy to say that my team has supported me through all of this and is aligned with my goal of closing this chapter with a LAST HURRAH SALE. It’s important to us that you, our customers and friends, have the opportunity to get your favorites one last time. We have made extra-large batches of your favorites and special requests will be honored while supplies last. In order for the most people to get the chocolates you love, please read the ordering details below.
I cannot thank you enough for being the best customers ever! YOU made it worthwhile despite the result. I wish that I could see you all in person one more time and give you a big high five! Know that when you see me, even if it’s with a mask on... there’s a smile under there!
Stay well, eat chocolate, shop small,