It’s not easy to get an audience with Royal Oak’s Queen of Chocolate, Gayle Harte, the owner of Gayle’s Chocolates. Your intrepid correspondent tried several times — visiting the store on at least three occasions during my quest for an exclusive interview with Gayle. Each time a friendly staff member disappeared upstairs into a highly secure, mysterious attic. This is where, rumor has it, the chocolate is made. They came back with questions and polite smiles and I tried valiantly to assure them I wasn’t there to sell them anything. Despite my persistent efforts, no offer of an interview with Gayle materialized. I understand — one glance around the store at the hundreds of treats that are made on site makes one realize how much work must be going on up there . . .
Thankfully, all was not lost. I did get permission to take several photos and a chance to have coffee with a couple of her courtiers. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Gayle’s (the flagship store is in downtown Royal Oak with two smaller branches at Detroit Metro Airport), it’s a sugar-filled adventure that will turn the most serious adult into a kid drooling at the candy counter again. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the products which include chocolate, great, bargain-priced coffee (so you have money left to buy a truffle or two!), espresso (home of the first espresso bar in Royal Oak), cupcakes, cookies, smoothies, tea, NY egg cream (a rare treat here in the Midwest), frozen chocolate drinks, and Gayle’s signature chocolate high heel shoe in a smart clear purse.
More photos and more on Gayle’s, after the jump . . .
Gayle has a great eye for what will sell well, according to her staff, and a visit on a recent weekday afternoon proved this was true. A regular flow of visitors came in buying a truffle or two, Easter eggs, a 3 foot high solid chocolate Easter bunny, and a unique eight pack of chocolate chunks that can be transformed at home into the best cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever had. Her signature high heel shoes are famous — and sometimes — copied by other vendors. And, for forty bucks, you can take one home.
I started off my interview with Linda and Renee by throwing several softball questions at them: How long have you been open? (over 25 years), Any Events? (Yes, live music on Sundays/ private events are available), Where are your products made? (In Royal Oak. In the secret attic.), When are you open? (10-6 M-Sat, Weds open til 8, 11-5 on Sunday).
After putting them at ease, like any great reporter, I decided to go for the jugular. I wanted to do some investigative journalism to prove that even though I couldn’t get an interview with the Grande Dame of Chocolate herself, I could still get a headline. So, I narrowed my eyes, stared down Linda and Renee, and I asked them.
Is chocolate recession-proof?
Their immediate answer: Absolutely! It sure seems like it is! (As a family of 6 wandered in, ready to stimulate the economy).
Check out Gayle’s on the web at www. gayleschocolates.com
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