CHOCOLATE. Not that the word needs to be shouted in all caps for lovers of it, but that's what Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Sarasota is all about. And that's what ultimately led to a career change for co-owners Karen and Michael Andrews, who were looking for a business to start and why chocolate won out over their other choice of a take-and-bake pizza shop they were thinking about opening after a planned trip to Las Vegas to learn more about the pizza industry.
"On our way to work, we heard a radio ad on a franchise expo in Tampa," said Karen Andrews. I dragged my husband out of bed on a Sunday morning and we were going to a demonstration on how salmon was going to taste like steak. We walked down the main aisle, glanced up and saw Peterbrooke. I reached down and picked up a chocolate pretzel twist, took a bite and thought, this is good!"
Now that football season has kicked off in the NFL, college and in high school, Peterbrooke Chocolatier can help you decorate your favorite team with custom-made chocolate footballs filled with chocolate covered popcorn! Or get in the Halloween spirit of the season with some spooky candy favorites or tasty Thanksgiving treats! 
Enter chocolate, exit pizza. After meeting the Chief Operating Officer of the company, Jeff Smith, Karen threw questions at him left and right and two days later, Michael canceled the Las Vegas trip and the pair never looked back. Peterbrooke was founded in 1983 when Phyllis Geiger brought European chocolate to Jacksonville, where the home office is located. 
The Sarasota store, which is located at 76 S. Palm Avenue, exudes a warm and friendly vibe as soon as you walk through the doors, not to mention the smell of chocolate. And that's by design, according to Karen. "I wanted to have laughter during the day," said Andrews. "People will say, Karen, I need a gelato quick and run back to their stores."
"I've been here at night for the (Sarasota) ballet," said Cycle Party co-owner Pedro Perez. "And something that's cool which is heartwarming to see is kids excited about being in the store. To have something that brings families together is nice." 
Something else which makes Peterbrooke stand out is the giant gelato carousel at the front of the store.
"The gelato carousel is a unique thing," said Cycle Party co-owner Kristen Hogenfogler. "Coupled with the concept of the store, it makes for a unique experience."
And it's those sorts of experiences for children which can make for lifelong memories. Andrews gets emotional just thinking about it. "Nobody gets excited over a pizza shop, but their kids WILL remember a chocolate camp. That's why I opened the shop. Making people happy should taste like chocolate."
Petebrooke Chocolatier Sarasota is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They're closed on Sunday. To order a special gift basket or ask a question, call 941.330.7616. 
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Photos courtesy of Peterbrooke Chocolatier