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Buy Local: Gayle’s Chocolates

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 . . .

Some Jazzy Easter Bunnies

Some Jazzy Easter Bunnies

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's Signature High Heel Shoe de Chocolat

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.

The Coffee Bar @ Gayles

The Coffee Bar @ Gayle's

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).

More treats:

Hand-made truffles are behind that glass.

Hand-made truffles are behind that glass.

Hot Chocolate:  Heat. Serve. Drink. Yum.

Hot Chocolate: Heat. Serve. Drink. Yum.

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

Three Foot of Solid Chocolate Bunny

Three Foot of Solid Chocolate Bunny

Finally, some chocolate tulips.  I love Spring!

Finally, some chocolate tulips. I love Spring!

Check out Gayle’s on the web at www.

18 responses to "Buy Local: Gayle’s Chocolates"

  1. Matt Apr 01, 2009 at 06:49

    Another hard hitting journalistic success, Brandon 😛

  2. Brandon Apr 01, 2009 at 07:00

    Hey Matt, what can I say, they bribed me with an amaretto truffle on the way out . . . . I couldn’t be *too* tough!

  3. Eric Brown Apr 01, 2009 at 07:52

    Brandon, You are the Star Reporter! Nice Job here,

  4. Amanda Apr 01, 2009 at 10:53

    I love Gayle’s! I used to get chocolate covered pretzel sticks there as a kid… of course back then they cost a dollar.

  5. Matt Apr 01, 2009 at 13:21

    Haha… I DON’T blame you!
    Funny writing though… “I decided to go for the jugular.”

  6. Brandon Apr 01, 2009 at 14:26

    Eric/ Matt: Thanks!

    Amanda — I saw those pretzel sticks by the counter! Didn’t see what their price tag is now… they look like they’re worth at least $3!

  7. Dan the Man Apr 01, 2009 at 17:16

    Where’s Gayle? Notice the contrast with B’s post on Cloverleaf-there, employees and mangers participated in the dialogue- here, nowhere to be found yet. Cheap, genuine engagement us available here!

  8. Brandon Apr 01, 2009 at 18:26

    Well, the post has only been up for a day — I did shoot them an email letting them know it’s up. Hopefully we’ll get some Gayle’s love soon. In the meantime, we might visit ourselves for some more chocolate. I’m addicted to their truffles!!!

  9. Madge Apr 06, 2009 at 17:13

    Try their chocolate-covered fudge Easter eggs. They’re to die for!!!

  10. Gayle Apr 07, 2009 at 08:47

    Hi Brandon,
    Great Job! I have been so busy making Easter Bunnies and more Easter Bunnies and Cutter Easter Bunnies that I can see straight.
    The last few Easter Bunnies might be crossed eyed. If it is not too late I would love to talk next week. After Easter. I really do have a lot to say. Thanks for the story. Gayle

  11. Brandon Apr 07, 2009 at 08:59

    Sweet! Dreams do come true 😉
    Thanks Gayle, for the comment, and for running such a great business in Royal Oak. Your chocolate is my gift of choice during my frequent travels — and it’s nice to be able to say, “this is made in Royal Oak” — and to be proud of the gift. Will catch up with you after the Easter rush!

  12. senora fernandez Apr 07, 2009 at 09:16

    i can’t wait to read about your one-on-one exclusive interview with Madame Chocolat herself! do you think she will let you into the secret attic???

  13. Matt Dibble Apr 07, 2009 at 10:44

    It’s all yours Charlie, the whole chocolate factory. You’ve won.

    There is no life I know, to compare with pure imagination! :-)

  14. Brandon Apr 07, 2009 at 22:40

    Thanks Senora and Matt! Appreciate your regular comments. I am looking forward to doing an interview with Gayle. How does someone become a chocolate maker? That major was definitely not offered at Alma College.

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