A move from Wilmette to Evanston turned out to be just the ticket for chocolate-maker Marie Douailly of Leonidas Café.
Douailly closed her store at 1157 Wilmette Ave. last spring, and opened the doors to a new Evanston location at 1907 Central St. this month.
“We are getting lots of new customers from Evanston and lots of repeat customers,” she said. “They are coming back right now, and it’s great.”
The spacious store new store near the corner of Green Bay Road and Central Street has comfortable couches for customers, French-café style seating and a display case packed with mouthwatering chocolate truffles.
Douailly said she started looking for a new store in part because she felt that her landlord in Wilmette wasn’t interested in doing the necessary upkeep. In addition to a brand new space, the Evanston store also has space for the company’s online sales business and a kitchen where staff make some baked goods in house.
We have more space, we have a shipping room, we have a kitchen, we have a higher ceiling,” she said. “Most important, we have more visibility.”
Being located on Central Street has meant the store sees more foot traffic and people stopping in for the first time, she explained.
While the store’s handmade pralines and truffles are always popular, the biggest surprise so far is how well the sweet and savory crepes are selling, according to Douailly.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, employee Aimee Lefevre estimated that Leonidas had already sold 100 crepes that day alone. Other offerings include hot chocolate made with Belgian chocolate chips and cocoa, smoothies, espresso drinks and Belgian waffles.
“We’ve been nonstop busy,” Lefevre said.
In addition to the new store on Central Street, Douailly also operates a Leonidas Chocolate Café in Northbrook, which opened in December, and another store in downtown Chicago, which she opened three years ago.
Hours in Evanston are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.