BIG VENTURE: Owners Sarah Wall and Kenny Walker are eagre to welcome customers to Chocolate Fayre's new premises on Horse-market
BIG VENTURE: Owners Sarah Wall and Kenny Walker are eagre to welcome customers to Chocolate Fayre's new premises on Horse-market

CHOCOLATE Fayre opened its new premises in Barnard Castle on Friday the 13th, but eight months of hard grind ensured it went off smoothly with none of the bad luck associated with the day.

In fact owners Sarah Wall and Kenny Walker were determined to open on the day and the fruit of their labour ensured it went without hitch.

Mr Walker said: “If it went wrong we could always blame superstition. We wanted to open on a Friday because we opened the old place on a Saturday and it was overwhelming. We thought a Friday would be less busy but that didn’t work because there was a queue at the door before 10am.”

Anyone familiar with the old shop will be astounded at the difference, and that is not just in the heritage approved Farrow and Ball “arsenic green” front, which the couple chose to ensure the shop stands out without being too vivid and bright.

The interior is spacious and welcoming with seats where customers can enjoy the shop’s new range of hot beverages – a stark contrast to the confines of the old shop.

Mr Walker said: “We are doing similar to what we were before. We have all the chocolate and confectionary. We still have the ice cream we had before. But we have added the hot drinks. We are offering all the drinks you would expect but not in the way anyone else does it.”

This includes a range of coffee beans that are ground on the premises – one house bean that will be maintained, and two guest beans that will be changed regularly.

Also on offer is a range of loose leaf teas and Mr Walker challenges people to “take out a quarter of an hour and enjoy a cup of tea properly”.

He added: “Being a chocolate shop we have a signature hot chocolate that is actual chocolate.”

He described it as being velvety, silky smooth and a bit bitter – and very indulgent.

The couple are now experimenting with non-dairy milk and over the coming weeks are toying with different alternatives and taking advice from vegan friends on what works. These new offerings can be enjoyed in the open air to the rear of the shop. Once impassable and overgrown, it is now open and expansive.

The owners reveal one of the walls was so badly weathered that it had to be entirely dismantled, with each stone carefully replaced where it was before. The rear garden extends to Barnard Castle’s ancient walls where astroturf has been laid to create a children’s play area. Parents and minders can relax on the outdoor seating enjoying the free chocolate they receive with each hot beverage while their youngsters play with the toys that have been provided. People who queued outside before the opening were surely not disappointed and the owners are no doubt pleased they do not have to blame superstition. Mr Walker concluded: “The feedback has been good. People are loving the coffee, the hot chocolate and really enjoying the back space as well.”