After a decade in their space on Starkweather Avenue, Joshua and Amanda Montague—the husband-wife team behind Lilly Handmade Chocolates—will be closing up shop in their Tremont confectionery and cocktail bar on May 25. In July, the couple will reopen in a cozy space at 2032 W. Schaaf Rd. in the South Hills sector of Old Brooklyn.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave
According to Amanda, the decisions to relocate, revamp their format, and pare down their storefront were made in an effort to better reflect present-day business trends in Cleveland.
The new storefront in Old Brooklyn“We love the Old Brooklyn area. It’s homey. I believe it just fits us as people,” she says. “The new space will feel very much like stepping into a chef’s kitchen, and customers will see a lot of what used to happen [strictly] behind the scenes.”
Whittling down their commute was a welcome byproduct of bringing the business near the Old Brooklyn family’s own backyard, where the couple is raising their 5-year old son, Gibson. Aside from approximately 700 fewer square feet than its Tremont flagship, the most notable change at the new Lilly Handmade Chocolates will be the absence of beer, spirits, wine, and pairing events.
“Ten years ago, you couldn’t find craft beer at a gas station,” Amanda laughs, recalling the days before the city’s brewery boom. “It’s just not something that people come to us for anymore.”
Although the Montagues’ new retail footprint will only occupy about 10 feet of space, zeroing in on chocolates and confections alone should increase the sweets selection by about 30 items. “We’re working on new additions to the menu that will have more whimsy—many things inspired by my childhood. My family was obsessed by Corn Flakes when I was growing up, so it’s only right that I do something cool with Corn Flakes and chocolate,” Amanda says.
Compensating for the downsized digs, the pair is ramping up their wholesale outreach with plans to establish a presence across all Cleveland neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs. LOOP and Banyan Tree will fill the void in Tremont, while Hudson's Heartwood Roastery and Rocky River's Erie Island Coffee are among the suburban resellers.
In the final weeks of operation at 761 Starkweather Ave., one-of-a-kind fixtures and furniture custom made by Jason Radcliffe of 44 Steel will also be available for sale.