Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Farewell to Our Biggest Fan


David Adler

My wonderful and supportive father, David Adler, passed away unexpectedly two weeks ago just as we were celebrating the opening of our new store at The Bravern in Bellevue.  Dad’s passions in life were good food, good conversation, me and my mom and, more recently, Chocolopolis.  I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to share Chocolopolis with him for 3 years. While my father was always proud of me, this was the first time we shared a passion for my career choice. As our biggest fan and supporter, I thought Dad deserved a chocolate-covered send off.

Mom and Dad moved to the Seattle area from Washington, DC three years ago just as I was signing a lease for our Queen Anne location and beginning the build out of Chocolopolis. He was very concerned about this undertaking of mine, trying to discourage me at every turn from moving forward. It’s not that he didn’t believe in me, it was his way of trying to protect his only child from a risky venture. As a retailer himself, he knew how hard the retail business could be, and he was concerned I wouldn’t have enough customers to support a chocolate store. He kept saying to me, “I think you should open a corned beef and pastrami stand. Now that would do really well.” It just goes to show you that you can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can’t take Brooklyn out of the boy.

When I finally opened the store, Dad was pleasantly surprised that I had customers and that I wouldn’t be going out of business. He quickly became Chocolopolis’ biggest supporter. He would lay awake at night coming up with marketing and product ideas. He’d try to tell me these ideas on a rare day off, when all I wanted to do was relax and not talk about business. Lucky for him my wonderful husband was kind enough to listen to his ideas and to share them with me later when I was ready to hear them. My mother eventually trained Dad to write his ideas down, and then he’d bring them to the store when I was working and share them with me. While some of the ideas would be more appropriate for 1940’s Brooklyn, other ideas were truly inspired and showed a deep understanding of the business, modern technology and my skill set.
The Adlers at Chocolopolis

Dad was Chocolopolis’ biggest promoter. He would sit with a cup of drinking chocolate at our window counter and tell anyone who came near the counter that the drinking chocolate was fantastic. If we tried to approach him and talk to him while he was doing this, he’d shoo us away and pretend not to know us so we wouldn’t blow his cover. On more than one occasion when my husband walked down Queen Anne Avenue with Dad, he would tell people in passing that there was a fantastic chocolate shop just down the street that had great figs or drinking chocolate. Those items, along with our chocolate-covered marshmallows, were his favorites, and he talked about them often.

My father is living testament to the idea that anyone can become a dark chocolate eater. He and I both ate almost exclusively mass-market milk chocolate for most of our lives. One of our all-time favorites was the Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar, which was usually in our fridge (yes, we put chocolate in the fridge). For a time when I was a teenager, he worked as a merchandiser for Hershey, and we’d get all the out-of-code chocolate to eat – I loved that job.  When I opened Chocolopolis I began introducing him to good dark chocolate. While I’ve seen a lot of customers’ palates adapt, including my own, I never expected his to change. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that shortly after I opened the store, he would no longer touch the mass market chocolate, and he’d come to prefer dark chocolate. I’m proud to say I never saw another bar of Cadbury Fruit & Nut in the house again. He only wanted the good stuff.

Many of my staff got to know Dad well, and they took great care of him. They’d immediately offer him a cup of drinking chocolate when he arrived at the store. If they were experimenting with a new product, they’d bring out a sample just for him. He usually loved whatever they were working on. He liked to see the sales totals, so they’d print out a sales report as soon as he arrived. He was very fond of my wonderful team of young ladies. I have to say a special thanks to those he got to know particularly well. My heartfelt thanks to Stacey, who has known Dad since I opened the store, and who calls herself an “honorary Adler”. Many warm thanks also to Emily, Roxanne, Julia, Candace, Robin and Sarah. He loved talking to all of you, and he constantly told me how nice you were to him.

Dad passed away the second day of our grand opening at The Bravern. He had not been to see the store since we’d opened because he wanted to wait for the grand opening when he knew it would be packed with customers. We had very good sales on our first day of grand opening, and I was able to tell him the sales total. He smiled and tried to say something. We could tell he was pleased. Sales on day two of the grand opening were even better, but this time Dad was gone and I couldn’t share it with him. While it was hard to swallow, I take comfort that he knew our first day was an excellent one.

Davy making Egg Creams @ Chocolopolis

I’d like to offer a chocolate-covered toast to Dad. We’ll think of you every time we sip drinking chocolate, eat a Chocolopolis fig or savor a chocolate-covered marshmallow. You’ll be with us every night we have a good sales report. We’ll remember you fondly whenever we make a Brooklyn egg cream. It’s because of you that we know the proper ratio of chocolate to seltzer to milk, and we won’t forget to stir at each step. And most importantly, I’ll call it “chewauklet” with a Brooklyn accent every once in awhile just so I can hear your voice.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of these past 3 years sharing Chocolopolis with you. I love you, Dad.


Lisa L said...

Thank you for sharing - sounds like he was a wonderful man and it would have been lovely to meet him...and share a cup of chocolate with him!

Anonymous said...

I was fortunate enought to meet Mr Adler. A TERRIFIC GUY!
Next time I will order figs and some drinking chocolate in his honor. Lauren, we KNOW you are making him proud, wherever he is.
Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories of Chocolopolis FAN #1.

sue said...

David was a wonderful person and a wonderful friend. We will miss him soooooo much.
Sue and Karl

Jill S. said...

Lauren - your tribute to your dad is beautiful. I had the opportunity to work with him on a few occasions, and I thoroughly enjoyed his energy, his spirit, and his unbridled excitement about your wonderful chocolate business.