Chocolate Brown Caféteria

It’s so sweet to be in the chocolate business



Susan Vize is enjoying running her new business so much, she wishes she’d started sooner. “I love every day that I go to work,” says the owner of the award winning chocolaterie and caféteria, Chocolate Brown.

Susan, who took over the well-established, boutique chocolate business in June 2015, reckons Warkworth, north of Auckland, is the perfect location. She says, “We are very lucky to have such a fantastic combination of very loyal local customers, plus we are a popular tourist destination, both nationally and internationally. For many Aucklanders, it is their favourite weekend getaway.”

Therefore, customers flock to Chocolate Brown Caféteria, which Susan describes as Warkworth’s biggest and most successful café. She attributes that success to having great food, great coffee, great service and a great atmosphere. “Those four elements are absolutely vital to making our place a truly amazing experience. When you visit the Chocolate Brown Caféteria, we want you to feel as if you are right at home. The cool, shaded verandah in summer and a roaring fire inside in winter, add to the homely atmosphere.”

As well, Chocolate Brown produces a range of mouth-watering chocolates from its factory alongside the chocolaterie and caféteria. This factory employs four chocolatiers who skillfully handcraft a wide range of chocolate from fresh quality ingredients and no added preservatives.

Right now, Susan’s focus is on further developing the wholesale, corporate and retail business, “That’s where the growth is,” she says. With a staff of around 30 and everything else she has to juggle, Susan has to be an expert time manager. Luckily she has an abundance of skills, thanks to her background in IT and marketing management, gained when she worked for Hewlett Packard and IBM.

“I also spent four years as a consultant to small businesses on business development strategies. Now I’ve combined all the skills and knowledge I’ve gathered thus far and am applying them to Chocolate Brown,” she says. Susan and her husband Des have previously lived in Wairarapa where they owned a boutique hotel, restaurant and retail shops.

Right now, Susan’s focus is on further developing the wholesale, corporate and retail business, “That’s where the growth is,” she says. With a staff of around 30 and everything else she has to juggle, Susan has to be an expert time manager.

Susan has dealt with Bruce Stormer, director at Moore Stephens Markhams Wellington, since this time and now that she owns Chocolate Brown, he has been instrumental in helping her with her accounting needs. She says, “It’s great that in spite of moving around the country, Bruce has been my accountant all the way through.”

Bruce has helped Susan with the due diligence process and bank finance application, and helped to set up her Xero accounting system. He and his team have been very supportive with their accounting advice, on-going reporting and compliance reporting as she has progressed with her new venture.

Susan says, “I have a very co-operative relationship with Bruce – if I have any queries all I need to do is phone him and he sorts it out. He will often work after hours if necessary.

“I often phone or email and ask his team things I need to know, for example, when buying a car – what’s the best way to do that from a financial and an owner’s perspective? Or why does Xero treat an invoice a certain way?  Bruce is easily and quickly able to advise me on things like that.”

While Bruce helps with the accounting mechanics of running the business, Susan finds there’s nothing like the satisfaction that comes from doing something you enjoy. When work stops feeling like work, it becomes something you revel in.

www.chocolatebrown.co.nz

Published Summer 2015




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