When Beau Monroe and Simon Brown first started making chocolate together in the then-closed Liholiho Yacht Club on Nob Hill everything was unknown to most of us about everything. That was in August 2020 and since then their online chocolate company Topogato has blown up. Now the two are pushing the business even further with their first physical location. The shop will be at 701 Sutter Street, in a former Subway location – which the founders find endlessly amusing. “What’s hilarious is that Subway is so normcore,” Monroe says with a laugh. “And our thing is so niche. Two years ago someone ordered a spicy Italian there, you know?”
The location will be used only for production at first. But pick-up orders, pop-ups in the coming months, and a full retail location within the next year are all on the vision board. It’s not all that pretty looking just yet (Monroe describes it as “pretty utilitarian” at the moment) and certainly not up to the two’s typical aesthetic standards. In any case, Monroe is optimistic. “We’re going to grow into this space,” he says. The longtime designer, and lover of rare books, linked up with Brown, his neighbor and former LinkedIn pastry chef, in 2007. It took them both losing work during the pandemic to decide they’d set off on their own, and they’ve managed to stay financially independent as sales keep rolling in not unlike old Karl the Fog himself — randomly but reliably.
The two have plans and ideas for events, but for now are focused on getting back to business; the company’s tempering machines have been on standby for a few months during the move to the new space. The expansion comes as the Bay Area chocolate scene finds new heights. Bayview business J Street Chocolate linked up with fellow neighborhood shop Bloomstock to sell a limited edition flavor; mega company Ghirardelli just entered the 21st century in a bold way, redesigning its Ghirardelli Square location; and Kokak Chocolates is reminding everyone know that being gay and eating chocolate is a-okay. For their part, the guys at Topogato are going to keep doing what they do best: otherworldly-looking (and tasting) chocolate-making. “From the beginning, we thought, ‘If this could work, it’d be incredible,’” Monroe says. “It’s surreal. We’re feeling really, really good.”