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The Chocolate House Bonn (Luxembourg) Expands Internationally

22 Jun 2018 - One of Luxembourg’s best-loved brands has been quietly going global, opening franchises in Saudi Arabia, China and, later this year, in Kuwait.

The Chocolate House has been a popular hangout for tourists and locals alike since it opened its doors opposite the Grand Ducal palace ten years ago.

Few customers may be aware, however, that were they to go to Riyadh or Shanghai, they would also be able to enjoy a similar experience.

“The customers came to ask me if they could open a franchise. I didn’t seek them out,” Chocolate House founder Nathalie Bonn told Delano in an interview on 15 June. “People were so happy to create a Chocolate House Luxembourg, so I said ‘OK. Let’s try’.”

The Riyadh Chocolate House was opened by a former customer in Luxembourg, Nuha Fozam, in 2016. Chocolate House products such as the famous chocolate spoons which customers can dip into hot milk are shipped there.

Shipping ingredients to Shanghai

Shanghai followed in January 2018 when Limao Chen, a businesswoman with two restaurants in Luxembourg, opened a Chocolate House Luxembourg on bustling Nanjing Road.

“They are trying to develop production of cakes there too. I was there for seven weeks in January to help them start production. Two of my employees are still there getting it started,” Bonn explained.

While the cakes are hand made in China, the ingredients are almost entirely Luxembourgish, as Cargolux ships Luxlait branded dairy produce and Luxembourg flour to China for this purpose.

The chocolate used by the Chocolate House is also exported from Luxembourg. Bonn buys in raw beans from Venezuela, the DRC and Vietnam, which she roasts and prepares for use in her cakes and other confections.

Restauration in the blood

Bonn was born into the restauration business--her mother ran a café for many years. She embarked on the Chocolate House venture after raising her own family. “I wasn’t keen on the concept of a Luxembourg café or Wiertschaft as you say in Luxembourgish,” the entrepreneur explained.

Her sweet tooth drew her to the idea of a restaurant focused around chocolate and cakes, with some savoury dishes and a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to cater for all tastes.

The team grew to 20 people, all of which have come to feel “like family”, Bonn said. Her real family also play an important role--her son helps to manage the international business along with business partner and co-founder Mohammad Salman. Bonn’s daughter takes care of email and social media, enabling her to focus on the operational side of the business--no easy task given the pace at which the brand is expanding.

New York, London & Egypt

After Kuwait, where staff will make cakes to be exported to the Riyadh Chocolate House, plans are in the pipeline to open Chocolate House Luxembourg franchises in New York, London and Egypt. And after that, maybe world domination? “We will see. It would be nice to see them everywhere because it’s really a piece of Luxembourg,” Bonn said.

The chocolate used by the Chocolate House is also exported from Luxembourg. Bonn buys in raw beans from Venezuela, the DRC and Vietnam, which she roasts and prepares for use in her cakes and other confections.

Restauration in the blood

Bonn was born into the restauration business--her mother ran a café for many years. She embarked on the Chocolate House venture after raising her own family. “I wasn’t keen on the concept of a Luxembourg café or Wiertschaft as you say in Luxembourgish,” the entrepreneur explained.

Her sweet tooth drew her to the idea of a restaurant focused around chocolate and cakes, with some savoury dishes and a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to cater for all tastes.

The team grew to 20 people, all of which have come to feel “like family”, Bonn said. Her real family also play an important role--her son helps to manage the international business along with business partner and co-founder Mohammad Salman. Bonn’s daughter takes care of email and social media, enabling her to focus on the operational side of the business--no easy task given the pace at which the brand is expanding.

New York, London & Egypt

After Kuwait, where staff will make cakes to be exported to the Riyadh Chocolate House, plans are in the pipeline to open Chocolate House Luxembourg franchises in New York, London and Egypt. And after that, maybe world domination? “We will see. It would be nice to see them everywhere because it’s really a piece of Luxembourg,” Bonn said.


DELANO

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