After five years of construction, delays, and anticipation, San Francisco chocolate maker Dandelion opens the doors to its major new Mission District factory this Friday, April 19. No need to hunt for a golden ticket: The facility at 16th and Harrison is open to visitors with 15 weekly tours, chocolate classes, a to-go cafe and retail space (serving hot chocolate, cookies, and Dandelion’s 70-plus percent cacao bars), and an elegant new tasting salon called Bloom, opening next month for all-day chocolate indulgences.
The entire operation occupies a nearly 30,000-square-foot space in a 107-year-old former mattress and printing factory. Designs by Chris Harrelson of architecture firm Gensler (whose work includes Facebook’s Menlo Park HQ) emphasize exposed brick and woodwork, mingling modern style with the building’s history.
New chocolate production on a mix of antique and state-of-the-art machinery could multiply Dandelion’s current “bean-to-bar” output (at its current Valencia Street space) by a factor of 10, to 1.5 million bars per year. That’s good news for Dandelion’s retail outposts from LA to Taipei. But co-founder Todd Masonis doesn’t just want the new factory to be a production hub.
“We want to be part of the community,” he told Eater SF last month. “We want to engage everyone, and get people excited.”
Bloom in particular could do just that. Adjacent to the production floor, Dandelion’s pastry chef Lisa Vega will serve breakfasts of bruléed brioche with homemade Nutella-style spread and cocoa nib infused creamcake, or “cake for breakfast,” a chocolate chip pancake cake with vanilla cream and chocolate maple sauce. Afternoon will bring chocolate soufflé, Earl Grey profiteroles, and hot chocolate served as if it were afternoon tea.
“It’s kind of like America’s answer to Angelina in Paris,” Masonis said, referencing the legendary Parisian tea house known for its hot chocolate.
Bloom’s piece de resistance will be a “Tree to Bar” tasting menu: An eight-course affair spanning cacao pulp and rinds to chocolate’s refined final form. Expect three chocolate ice cream courses (including a house-made “It’s-It”) and a finale course of Camino Verde Intense, one of Dandelion’s richest chocolates from Camino Verde in Ecuador.
When Dandelion debuted on Valencia Street in 2010, a much more modestly-sized space, “We thought maybe a few people would show up per day,” Masonis said. “But by the time we opened our doors, were completely maxed out.”
Dandelion’s new space may be many times larger — but San Francisco chocolate lovers could interpret that as a challenge.