The Bay Area is about to experience serious truffle withdrawal.
San Francisco original Joseph Schmidt Confectioners will permanently close its Castro store tomorrow at 5 pm; the Santana Row store in San Jose will close today at 5pm. The Hershey Co., which bought the company in 2005, is discontinuing the brand.
"It's very, very sad," said Timothy Childs, co-founder and chief chocolate officer of the San Francisco-based start-up Tcho. "Joseph Schmidt is a pioneer. He revolutionized the way we think about chocolate in the Bay Area."
European-trained baker Joseph Schmidt opened his first store in San Francisco in 1983. With fanciful chocolate sculptures lining the shelves and his signature egg-shaped truffles offered in gourmet flavors, the store quickly became a popular tourist attraction. A second site opened in San Jose's Santana Row in 2003.
Founder Joseph Schmidt will remain employed with Hershey. The workers at the two stores and SoMa factory will be laid off.
Tcho announced last week that it hired product developer Bradley Kintzer, who has worked with Joseph Schmidt Confectioners and other Hershey subsidiaries in the past.
Noting that Tcho's business is "growing," Childs said that it is unfair to compare the success of chocolate-maker Tcho against the demise of confectioner Joseph Schmidt.
"Joseph Schmidt made magic with chocolate, wheras we are involved with creating the base materials that a confectioner would use," said Childs. "It's like comparing apples and oranges."
Or perhaps milk and dark chocolate.
Image courtesy star5112 via Flickr