Legendary Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop Reopens with a Fresh and Futuristic Look
The iconic chocolate company turned to a sleek Bay Area design firm to reimagine their flagship retail experience with fresh chocolate.
There is a special mystique to a vintage tourist destination, even for seasoned locals who would never purposefully go on their own. Maybe your cousin’s in from out of town, or a friend wants to do some people-watching, or maybe you just zoned out on Muni and ended up there, but the classic charm of a place like Ghirardelli Square will catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it. It’s even more exciting when those places are brought into the modern era—and that is exactly what’s happened over the last several months at The Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience Shop, which re-opened on May 20, after a major redesign.
The nearly 6,000 square foot space was designed by Eight Inc., the Bay Area firm behind futuristic and massive undertakings like the Apple store and the Lenovo Future Center in Shanghai. The new Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop infuses a sleek modernity into Ghirardelli’s iconic style, elevating the vintage brick and wood warehouse with shocks of white and gold, a bright and sweeping bar with a blue tile motif, and unobstructed views of Alcatraz and out into the Bay below.
The new store isn’t all style, though—there are substantial chocolate changes too. They will now be making chocolate bars in the shop area itself, which will allow the sights, sounds, and smells of the chocolatier’s daily life to float through the new space. The vaunted Ghirardelli hot fudge sundaes will also be made fresh on-site daily in an open kitchen for guests to watch the magic happen, and they’ll be roasting nuts in the facility too.
Retail options have expanded to include the company’s largest ever Pick & Mix, the kiosk at which customers can grab individually wrapped chocolate squares to assemble their own bags from some 20-odd flavors. And then, once your bag is assembled, you can take it to a digital kiosk to personalize the packaging for you or a lucky loved one.
In a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, San Francisco Mayor London Breed emphasized the importance of the occasion, saying, ““Ghirardelli Square is one of our city’s most beloved destinations that tourists and residents always come back to. We know that COVID had a significant impact on our tourism industry, and as we continue to recover, it is critical to establish new experiences for everyone to enjoy. Ghirardelli has helped bring people to San Francisco’s waterfront for almost 130 years, and they will continue to do so with the reopening of their Chocolate Experience Store.”
2022 marks the 170th anniversary of Ghirardelli’s incorporation, and their founding in 1852 makes them the third-oldest chocolate company in the US, and the oldest one on the West Coast. With this major forward-looking reboot, the company is telling us that they’re just getting started.
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience shop is open Sunday through Friday from 9 am to 10 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to 9 pm.