In November 2016, Future Food was engaged by the South Melbourne Market to form part of the selection committee to choose a potential chocolate specialist operator capable of delivering a modern chocolate patisserie at the Market. ATYPIC Chocolate was the business selected based on their passion for perfection for all things chocolate and to provide a business opportunity to two young and budding entrepreneurs. As of a couple of weeks ago, ATYPIC is now in full swing and the creator, Charles Lemai and his team are receiving the success they deserve with chocolates selling out before the end of trade and lines sprawling down the market aisle.
ATYPIC Chocolate is a specialty store offering unique and quality chocolate products, made by the hands of esteemed pastry chef, Charles Lemai. Since the late 1990’s, Charles has been in the pastry game but it was his visit to Vietnam that made him fall in love with chocolate. He has since mastered the art of chocolate making and made it one better than the rest by ensuring he sources all of his ingredients from local growers, supports the community ATYPIC exists in and promotes sustainability as he goes.
ATYPIC lives up to its name with the chocolate being a cut above the rest, “We control our ingredients from the very beginning; we monitor every step of our production to ensure the quality of the products. Organic, chemical free ingredients as well as free range eggs are our core.” This ethos is not one that is typical to the pastry industry however, the consumer is craving this level of conscience in the food and products they are buying putting ATYPIC ahead of the curve.
Working closely with the team, Future Food provided the following services to ATYPIC to ensure the store could stand up on its own two feet on the day of opening:
- Reviewed the concept and ensured it aligned with the overall Market environment
- Developed a retail store masterplan including an interior design brief and working budget
- Appointed an interior designer
- Refined the menu to align with the capability of the specialists and space
- Brand development of the name and supporting brand standards
- Developed a visual merchandising plan including uniform, signage, ticketing, product displays, packaging and overall presentation
- Conducted a tenancy design review
- Conducted pre-open reviews of operations, product testing and training
- Reviewed visual merchandising and displays prior to opening
- Provided post-opening reviews and audits of operations
Charles and his partner Chi have learnt a vast amount in the process of getting ATYPIC to come to life, “It is a learning process. We learnt a lot while setting up the store. Not only the business knowledge but also the life experience (how to be mature, how to make calm and correct business decisions, how to look after staff, how to manage the pressures). The main challenge is life and work balance. We have a great mentor, Francis, who helped us to overcome some challenges, such as design issues, display ideas, ticketing etc.” And their one piece of advice to new business operators? “Attach with the customers, attach with the food.” A piece of advice they are putting into practice every day at the store.
You can visit ATYPIC Chocolate on market days and treat yourself to one of their identifying ATYPIC Chocolate Merveilleux - a reinterpretation of a classic pastry from the North of France made of two layers of crisp meringue, light and airy whipped ganache and delicately shaved chocolate. It’s Charles’ childhood favourite and he still loves it now. And don’t worry if you have to queue for your treats, it gives you more time to watch Charles and his team of chocolate specialists in their kitchen as they create some of the City’s best desserts