- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Trish Schutz and Cheri Friedman don't like the taste of chocolate. But the owners of Kron Chocolatier in Mazza Gallerie have a sweet tooth for the business.
Mrs. Schutz has her hands covered and dripping with melted chocolate, as Mrs. Friedman packs another box of chocolates for delivery. Despite being surrounded by chocolate, the business partners have no urge to sneak a piece.
"I've just never been a chocolate eater," says Mrs. Schutz, who prefers licorice and gummi bears.
But that hasn't stopped either of them from continuing to succeed in the business and stay busy filling orders just days before one of the busiest holidays for the candy industry.
Everything sold at Kron's is made behind the glass windows at the back of the store, which is nestled away at the bottom level of the shopping mall in Northwest. While it's not the most visible store, shoppers can certainly smell the aroma of chocolate as it wafts through the hallways. The store, which prides itself on its truffles, makes everything from chocolate-covered macadamia nuts and cashews to fresh and dried fruit dipped in chocolate.
On this day, Mrs. Schutz spends the morning and part of the afternoon dipping more than 400 pieces of fruit in milk, dark or white chocolate. Two separate machines mix the white and milk chocolates, keeping them soft and melted for easy dipping. She uses a smaller boiler to melt the dark chocolate because she doesn't have many orders for that flavor.
In a bowl of melted milk chocolate, she dips peeled orange slices, one by one, covering each of them in thick chocolate coating. After being placed on an oversized tray, the chocolate pieces dry in minutes. These are then removed from the trays and either used to fill orders or put in boxes for sale at the store.
Besides the strawberries, oranges, raspberries, bananas and grapes, Mrs. Schutz slices six lemons, cutting each slice in half. She dips those, with the rind still attached, into white chocolate. The combined sweet and tart taste has found favor among patrons since the store started selling them last month.
Mrs. Schutz's work station, outfitted with stainless steel sinks and countertops, overlooks the Kron store. Customers can catch a slight glimpse of Mrs. Schutz and her crew working diligently in the back.
The store's walls are lined with dozens of chocolate treats in the form of mini-computers, cell phones, pagers, remote controls, high heels, golf balls, sports cars and ties all made in the back room.
"We can find molds for just about everything," Mrs. Friedman says.
Kron Chocolatier is in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year as Passover and Easter prompt dozens of orders from chocolate-covered matzo and dipped fruit to chocolate Easter baskets and miniature chocolate eggs. The store is filled with pre-made Easter baskets, marshmallow peeps dipped in chocolate and solid chocolate bunnies.
Mrs. Friedman, however, doesn't have her hands in the melted chocolate. Instead, she deals primarily with the clients. On this day she is preparing about a dozen orders mostly Easter-themed candy to go out for delivery. Earlier in the week, the number of orders was double.
It's busy, but not as busy as it is during the Christmas and Valentine's Day rush when Mrs. Schutz is at work until 3 in the morning.
Besides the busy holidays, Kron's does party favors for a variety of functions like weddings, bar mitzvahs and corporate events. Mrs. Friedman recently secured a deal for an event at the MCI Center, which will have Mrs. Schutz making 2,000 chocolate-covered cherries 1,000 dried and 1,000 fresh.
Mrs. Schutz says this is among the most time-consuming and difficult orders because each cherry has to be placed in a mold on a tray, with the chocolate then to be squeezed into each mold. This order is for the week after Easter.
The back room, where Mrs. Schutz spends most of her time, is lined with boxes ranging from chocolate-covered caramels to cashews. This kind of chocolate has a shelf life of about six months but the pieces usually never last that long since they are used to meet orders or are sold at the store.
The dipped fruit, on the other hand, has to be sold the day it is made.
"Some days we don't have enough," said Mrs. Schutz. "And some days we can't sell it."
Kron Chocolatier was opened in Mazza Gallerie in December 1977 by Carol Gichner. Mrs. Schutz, studying to be a nurse, was the store's second employee in 1978. She never left, despite finishing her education and working as a nurse full time. She left the nursing profession and bought the business in June 2001 with her friend Mrs. Friedman, a former graphic artist.
"Carol built a name for this store and we're riding on that," Mrs. Friedman says.
And the store is busier than ever, despite a weakened economy.
"Our best years are when there is a recession," says Mrs. Gichner, who still works at the store part time. "People cut back on more expensive things but they can still afford a box of chocolates."


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