For the past seven years, Collingswood couple Melissa and Chuck Crandley have built a confectionary business from the ground up. Now they’re ready for their first storefront.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 15, 2019
When Melissa Crandley graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2010, she didn’t anticipate a career in chocolates.
The former financial analyst had already traded her cubicle life for the sweat and swagger of the kitchen.
She would spend the next two years working the lines at Marcie Turney’s 13th Street properties in Philadelphia, from Bindi (now Jamonera) to Barbuzzo.
But it wasn’t until Crandley landed in the pastry rotation at Turney’s chocolate shop, Marcie Blaine, that she found her calling.
There, she drew upon the complicated and savory flavors of Indian, European, and Middle Eastern cuisines to lend a novel depth to the confections and desserts she was preparing. After a while, Crandley felt like she’d happened upon something.
For the next seven years, Melissa and husband Chuck (the “-cha” in “Mecha”) incubated their business within the SoHa Arts Building in Haddon Township. They grew a steady base of business clients and a customer following at area farmers markets before partnering with Collingswood boutique Occasionette for an in-store chocolate counter.
That experience led the Crandleys to realize they were ready to open up on their own, and when the shop at 7 King’s Highway East in Haddonfield became available, they decided to take the plunge.
“The history and the location of this downtown presented an awesome opportunity,” Chuck said. “The footprint was right what we were looking for.”
A brick-and-mortar location in the Haddonfield business district will also afford opportunities for Melissa to work out new concepts and flavors in partnership with other local businesses.
Last summer, she partnered with a trio of Collingswood businesses for a Father’s Day chocolate box that featured an ancho smoked almond praline and cherrywood smoked chocolate from barbecue restaurant Macona, a Sulawesi coffee whisky from Revolution Coffee Roasters, and a bacon chocolate cherry stout from Devil’s Creek Brewing.
“I still like the savory side, and that’s why you see my chocolates have a lot of savory influences,” Melissa said.
“I want to open people’s minds up beyond eating a piece of chocolate; I want them to have more of an experience.”
Similarly, Melissa is looking forward to broadening palates in Haddonfield. Mecha will offer a monthly First Friday tasting, starting November 1 with a chocolate pretzel board paired with King’s Road Brewing beer. Future installments may feature cheeses, honeys, teas, and pickled items.
“I feel like it can all go together,” Melissa said. “[Chocolate boards are] a great entertainment showpiece: you can put it out for dessert, or as an appetizer.”
Beyond its staples of chocolates, caramels, toffees, truffles, barks, and bars, Mecha’s Haddonfield storefront will offer small group classes.
There’s limited seating, but the shop is BYOB, and guests can feel free to bring a beverage to pair with their favorite selections from the case.
“A chocolate store by itself, I feel like it needs more to it,” Melissa said.
“Here I can offer experiences and tastings, which I couldn’t do before.”
The shop will showcase some of these experiences with a different event every night during its grand opening week (October 29 through November 2).
Guests can expect unique beverage and chocolate pairings, tarot card readings, and sales on Halloween. On November 2, shoppers can enjoy 15 percent off the entire store and live music by guitarist Dave Kelly.
Mecha Chocolates is located at 7 King’s Highway East in Haddonfield. The shop is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit mechachocolate.com.
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