Something Sweet

Seven months into new ownership, much remains the same at The Chocolat Bar

Lex Nelson

For a couple that worked at a skin care company, buying a chocolate shop may have looked like a big leap from the outside. But when Jason and Trish Stack purchased Boise’s The Chocolat Bar from founders Chris Preston and Kristi Echols-Preston in August of 2018, it was a remarkably smooth career transition.

“I had gone several years doing restaurant management, and when I got out of that I went back to school and got a degree in biology, and ended up becoming a formulation chemist and VP of manufacturing for [the skin care company] Episciences,” Jason explained. “So with the formulation background you’re kind of cooking and mixing and everything else, and then the restaurant background, it all kind of ties up into what chocolate is.”

The move had been in the works for a while. Before taking over The Chocolat Bar, the Stacks worked with Preston and Echols-Preston for nine years, partnering on an annual order of botanical extract-inspired chocolates that Episciences gave out as Christmas gifts. From there, Trish and Echols-Preston became friends, and when the founding couple revealed they had their eyes on retirement, the Stacks were ready to step in. Jason, then working as a full-time dad, took the helm.

From the perspective of a customer, it  may seem like nothing has changed. Walk-ins at the Bannock Street store are still greeted by glass cases filled with truffles, barks and chocolate-coated caramels, and sweet, milky smell fills the air.

Jason said that continuity is intentional. He wants to keep the 15-year-old Boise landmark the same at heart as he works to help it grow.

“Chris and Kristi had done a really good job of building this business, but they were getting ready to retire. We are wanting to take things to the next level,” he said.

Still, there are a few changes in the works, and Jason said some even bigger steps are afoot, though it’s still too early to reveal them. The Stacks have added a few personal touches, like offering a wider selection of truffles for Valentine’s Day, and are ramping up the company’s partnerships with local business like Dawson Taylor, which supplies coffee for a few of its chocolates, and Meriwether Cider, which recently paired up with the confectionary for a Valentine’s Day tasting. They’re also looking to replace the company’s outdated website, complete with new, mouthwatering photography.

Jason oversees the shop’s day-to-day operations, but Trish pitches in too on nights and weekends, even while holding down the vice president of marketing position at Episciences.

New owners or no, The Chocolat Bar remains one of the sweetest family-run spots in town.