After opening Chocolatà Artisanal Chocolatier in 2017, Kathy D’Agostino has enjoyed watching the once quiet streets of downtown Birmingham come back to life. REV sat down with her to learn more about how she landed here, where she thinks the city is heading, and why Chocolata believes in Birmingham.
Q: How did you end up in downtown Birmingham?
A: I worked downtown for the past 12 years doing some freelance work and I noticed the change coming, slowly but surely. It seemed like things were starting to come back to life down here. I used to always notice the boarded-up storefronts on 2nd and when I did decide finally open my own business, I really liked the idea of fixing up one of them and becoming a part of Birmingham’s revitalization.
Q: What do you think downtown Birmingham needs most to continue building on its momentum and find future success?
A: It seems like the growth is happening pretty quickly – so much is changing and I think that the city will just continue to grow and improve. There’s a lot of care that has to be taken with the city’s infrastructure – things like transportation, flow of traffic, parking, the conditions of sidewalks, and walkable spaces – and I think that as long as we have leaders in the community that are willing to think through those critical things so that we’re growing in a sustainable way, we all have a lot to look forward to. There’s definitely a lot of opportunity and potential down here.
Q: What’s the story of how you ended up selling chocolate?
A: My first job when I was 15 years old was working in a chocolate shop. I worked there for about four years and they taught me everything about working with fine chocolate. I went on to do other things in life but about five years ago I got a little burnt out with what I was doing and I decided to revisit what had kind of grown into sort of like a childhood dream of having my own chocolate shop. So I started investigating and experimenting and ordering chocolates from different companies and playing in my kitchen with recipes and I did some pop-ups but I realized that I really just wanted to have a shop because I felt like Birmingham needed a chocolate shop and I was excited to be a part of the rejuvenation of the downtown area.
Q: Last question – do you have any specific chocolates that you would recommend to customers?
A: We have a few things that sell just non-stop. Our Dixie at Dusk Bar is our best–selling bar, and our Goddess Bark is one of our bestselling items as well. It’s a pink bark – a white-chocolate strawberry bar with rice petals and blueberry sea-salt. We’ve also recently just started infusing some of the bars with CBD and those have been very popular. We have a great sipping chocolate, which is unusual to find in the South, but more and more people are doing it – it’s just a really rich, thick, more European version of hot chocolate. We have a wide-array of choices so there’s definitely something for everyone!
Come by the shop Wednesdays and Thursdaysfrom 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – and let the sweet aroma, beautiful presentation and cozy atmosphere whisk you away into the world of artisanal chocolate.