GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Downtown Grand Island has been in a state of transformation, reflecting both its historical identity and an exciting new urban landscape.
One of the businesses creating that new identity is the Chocolate Bar, 116 W. Third St., which will celebrate its second anniversary on Nov. 28. Sharena and Amos Anson own the Chocolate Bar, and Lindsey Hawley is promotion manager.
"The Chocolate Bar concept started with cakes and chocolates and over four years morphed into a vision to create an atmosphere that would encourage Grand Islanders to get together while being able to enjoy something tasty," Sharena Anson said.
Hawley said the Chocolate Bar has elevated its reputation with a number of honors:Won Hope Harbor's Battle Caramel in February.Donates regularly to Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits.Won Best of Grand Island awards for atmosphere, bar and dessert.Sharena Anson nominated for YWCA's Young Woman of Achievement.
— Nominated for Grand Island's Beautification Award.
— Chosen to host numerous politicians.
— Hosted in-house events such as Pub Club, Cocktail Club and Dance Night (hosted by Dance Steps' Don and Esther Amick).
The Chocolate Bar is also receiving high marks from Grand Island visitors who leave comments on social media sites such a Trip Advisor and Yelp.
Its second anniversary will also come during the holiday season, and Hawley said the Chocolate Bar has added some new services, along with a holiday emphasis.
The new box lunch service is an "in-office" luncheon solution, Hawley said, "for those times you're in need of a little something different in the middle of the day." Box lunches are delivered to the business. There is a minimum order of four lunches, and orders are needed the day before.
The Chocolate Bar is offering holiday cakes and gift baskets for the Christmas season and beyond. Items may be selected from a new retail wall and will include baked goods, pie pops, gluten-free dog treats, taffy, English toffee, coffee, tea and other items.
The business is also offering corporate chocolate gift boxes.
Hawley said the Chocolate Bar is also a great place for holiday parties. It is currently scheduling "murder mystery" Christmas parties.
"We'll be teaming up with Dreisbach's to offer a full evening of food, drinks, dessert and entertainment," Hawley said.
Also for the holidays, Hawley said, the Chocolate Bar will offer workshops for individuals, friends and families, such as gingerbread-house building, wine and art, and ornament painting.
Anson said they are looking forward to their third year in business.
"It's our goal to convey to Grand Island and the surrounding areas what all we can offer to make their parties and get-togethers special," Anson said. "We are also very much looking forward to creating more events for friends and families."
She said it's "equally important to us to find more ways we can give back to the community. For instance, we'd love to donate a birthday cake a month to nonprofits that house children whose families may not have the ability to provide one for them."
For the future, Hawley said there will be more events to encourage engagement and interaction. Examples include Sips 'n' Strokes (art, wine and socialization), Hands-On Art and Cocoa (family activities and crafts).
"We want to hear what the public wants to see," Hawley said.
Hawley said the Chocolate Bar will be involved in more creative fundraisers and awareness for local nonprofit organizations.
She also said there are more ways to enjoy the Chocolate Bar throughout the week, including weekday meals to go off the menu or choosing a monthly meal, which the Chocolate Bar will begin offering in January.
Anson said creating and running a business hasn't been the easiest of tasks.
"The past two years have been a great growing and learning experience," Anson said.
She said there have been many challenges on a daily basis. But Anson gives credit to the "amazing support we receive from our die-hard customers, the community, our dedicated staff and much prayer that we can keep looking forward with excitement to how we can continue to offer our talents to the community."
The Chocolate Bar has a morning breakfast menu including lattes, drip coffee, pastries, biscuits and gravy, French toast, seasonal pumpkin French toast and other items.
Throughout the day, the business offers wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads.
The Chocolate Bar offers a full custom bakery with daily cakes, custom desserts, occasion and wedding cakes. All the bakery products are made from scratch.
The Chocolate Bar also offers a truffle selection, whether it's enjoying them by the piece, as an assortment or for corporate gifts.
The Chocolate Bar offers lunch deliveries, caterings and can be booked for a party.
Location: 116 W. Third St.
Phone: (308) 675-0664
Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and closed on Sundays