Le Chocoholique: Meet the Short North Chocolate Shop

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
"I wanted to bring something to Columbus that it didn't have," says Le Chocoholique owner Monica Barr

Monica Barr had a problem. Come the holidays, she couldn't find locally made chocolates she wanted to give as gifts. "I wanted to bring something to Columbus that it didn't have," says Barr, who opened artful chocolate and wine shop Le Chocoholique in the Short North in 2010. She started by sourcing chocolates from gourmet shops around the country.

But now, nearly every blue cheese-flavored and liquor-filled truffle in the large display case is made by Barr's son, Justin, a self-taught chocolatier. While Monica is a traditional nuts or caramel lover when it comes to chocolate, it's Justin who comes up with the wacky flavors (the Elvis includes peanut butter and banana) that have quickly become top sellers.

601 N. High St., Short North;

On the idea

I always talked about owning a chocolate shop. Sometimes when you go out to dinner, you're too full for dessert. You might just want to walk around for a while and get something little.

On great advice

My ex-husband, he actually pushed me into it. He said the worst that could happen is you could fail. But failure is better than most of the world that didn't even try.

On making chocolate

Every picture on my phone has something to do with my shop. I was looking back through (to when she tried making her own chocolates) and thought, "Oh my god, my truffles were so ugly." But baking I can do. I can bake all day.

On who really makes the chocolate

My son started tinkering around in the back with a chocolate tempering machine I bought. He is all self-taught. He's just a very smart, detailed person. He's a perfectionist.

On a happy work environment

From being a credit analyst, everybody was miserable and everybody hates you. I thought, I'd love to work in a happy environment. And this shop is a happy environment. If you do come in having a bad day, you should leave happy.

On candy as a kid

My mom came from Germany when she was 12. Our Easter baskets were always filled with good chocolate. There was never chocolate from CVS. She always did solid chocolate bunnies. I don't know if people even do solid chocolate bunnies anymore. In the fridge, you'd see the half eaten bunny until October.

On lessons learned

We had an Easton location and it did not make it. It just didn't sell. It cost a bit of money for the learning experience, but we learned where we need to be is in an artsy area. In the Short North, everybody appreciates the art, the craft of it.

On her customers

We wanted to have something for everybody. I'll have a guy come in and buy a $100 bottle of Champagne and a massive box of chocolates for an anniversary, and then I can have a high school kid come in and buy themselves a cup of coffee and a few things. Really it's any demo, any price point.

On Feb. 14

Valentine's Day is ridiculous here. Every year I just want to cry. [laughing] It's mostly men in here, and it all happens within three days. I've found they spend a whole lot more the later they're shopping.