Guest interview: Paul Morris of The Chocolate Cafe

I came across The Chocolate Cafe on Twitter @welovechocolate when doing research for the Manchester stop on my Summer 09 UK Blogging Tour. At present there are two Chocolate Cafes one in Ramsbottom and the other in Deansgate in Manchester. I was intrigued when I read about the chocolate pizzas so asked co-founder Paul Morris if he’d like to do a guest interview for the Europe a la Carte Blog.

The Chocolate Cafe, Ramsbottom

The Chocolate Cafe, Ramsbottom

What is the aim of your business?

At The Chocolate Cafe we aim to produce very simple food & drink to the highest quality, backed up with attentive, friendly, service (and of course a little chocolate twist). Our sandwiches are made using freshly baked traditional tin loaf (no ciabatta or foccacha here!), our soups are seasonal and prepared fresh daily, our drinking chocolates are simple pure melted chocolate & hot milk (the real thing, no chocolate flavourings here) & our chocolate pizzas are made by hand on site using the finest Belgian chocolate.

2 What prompted you to start your own business?

During our time living and working in France we adored the pavement cafes and salon de the’s. We love the way the even the most basic French cafe will take so much care and pride over the simplest cup of coffee or steak frites. We realised that this approach to simple food and quality produce was not being widely offered in the UK.

3 What has been the hardest aspect of having your own business?

Sourcing local suppliers who share our passion for quality, and finding dedicated staff who are committed to a career in hospitality as opposed to seeing it as a ‘McJob’.

4 What is the funniest thing that has happened to you running your business?

We sell solid chocolate pizzas decorated with dark chocolate ‘olives’, milk chocolate ‘pepperoni’ and vanilla fudge ‘ham’. One elderly lady customer purchased one for her husband. She then telephoned the next day to complain that when she cooked it for him in the oven – it melted!

5 Is there anything you would do differently with the benefit of hindsight?

Starting a business and a family (our son Billy was born two months after we opened) at the same time is incredibly difficult. In hindsight we would have liked to have waited to start a family until we had been trading for a couple of years.

My comments

I loved the tale of the oven baked chocolate pizza. Paul, there is never a perfect time to have kids, especially if you are self employed, you just have to take the plunge at some point.