In the movie Chocolat, a woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village, shaking up the traditional community.
Casey Petz, owner of Detroit Chocolat, loved the idea behind the transformative power of chocolate in the movie, which is one of the inspirations behind the Sterling Heights-based confection business he opened three years ago with his wife.
The other inspiration is the city of Detroit, and this civic pride manifests itself in the products offered at the shop. When opening the business, the 34-year-old envisioned a “southeast Detroit, Michigan-themed business to not only support ourselves but to support other people who are trying to do the same things.”
With a Michigan-first mentality, almost everything in the shop (98 percent) is Michigan-made and sourced, he says. Suppliers include Germack Nuts, Better Made Potato Chips, Kelly’s Karamels, Faygo, Cherry Republic, and more. Incorporating Michigan products makes for not only a “unique product but it’s also a really good tasting product that connects to people,” he says.
As the great-grandson of the co-founders of Morley Candy Makers, it was “a matter of destiny” for one “born with chocolate running in my veins,” he says. Even as a toddler, he could be found spending extra time working in the candy shop, being paid in chocolate suckers.
Don’t expect to find an extension of Morley’s at Detroit Chocolat. Self-taught chocolatier Petz has made the company his own by offering hand-crafted, small-batch confections. Some top sellers: The Detroiter box, which comes with a Pewabic Pottery tile; the decadent Peanut Briddle, a recipe perfected by him and his father; and nonpareils, morsels of rich, creamy chocolate offset by crunchy pink and purple sugar pellets.
Even though 2011 seemed like the worst time to open any business, much less a candy business, Petz says many chocolate companies were founded during an economic downturn, including Morley’s.
“Chocolate is an affordable luxury that people … gravitate to in times when it’s tough,” he says.
For more information, go to detroitchocolat.com. 13923 Lakeside Circle, Sterling Heights; 586-566-8620.