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Godiva moves beyond chocolate to open 2,000 cafes

The confectioner is rolling out 2,000 cafes that will serve a complete menu of items such as the croiffle, a croissant and waffle hybrid. 

Customers wait in line for service at Godiva's

Customers wait in line for service at Godiva's new cafe in Manhattan on Tuesday, before its official opening. Photo Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

Godiva is looking beyond its iconic gold gift box of chocolates.

The Belgian confectioner is rolling out 2,000 cafes in the next six years that will serve a complete menu of items such as the croiffle, a croissant and waffle hybrid that's stuffed with fillings such as cheese or chocolate and then pressed on a waffle iron. Other items include an expanded list of coffees and a new collection of teas as well as grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and yogurt parfaits.

The cafes mark Godiva's foray into prepared meals. The first one officially opens in Manhattan Wednesday and is part of an ambitious growth plan spearheaded by CEO Annie Young-Scrivner, who took over Godiva's helm in 2017 after serving as a top executive at Starbucks. Her goal: to increase its revenue fivefold by 2025.

A Godiva representative said he could “neither confirm nor deny” if any of the 2,000 Godiva Cafes set to open would be located on Long Island. “Information on the specifics, the when and wheres of the cafe openings is not yet available,” he said.

The company, privately owned by Turkish Yildiz Holding AS, doesn't report sales or profits but according to reports, Godiva was about a $1 billion business in 2017. It expects 40 percent of its total sales to come from the cafes in the next five years. One-third of the new cafes will be in the United States.

Godiva sees big sales opportunities in Asia and the Middle East, where shoppers prefer to sit down to eat instead of grab-and-go options, according to Young-Scrivner.

Currently, the confectioner operates about 800 stores in 105 countries. But the fare is limited to boxed chocolates, chocolate-covered strawberries, ice cream and drip coffee.

Godiva wants to be more than just a gift choice for Valentine's Day or the holidays.

"We really have a stronghold on formal gifting but we want to expand to everyday consumption," said Young-Scrivner in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Some of the traditional stores will be converted into cafes, but Godiva is looking beyond malls and will also have stand-alone storefronts and airport locations. Young-Scrivner said she believes Godiva cafes will stand out amid the proliferation of other coffee outlets because of its heritage that goes back to 1926 as well as its top quality items.

Thierry Muret, executive chef chocolatier at Godiva, says he's been testing food and drinks for the new menu for a year. He said it took eight months to get the right blend of coffee that would have the right undertones of chocolate, for example.

Each of the cafes will have the core menu but will be tailored to the international region's tastes. Muret is also trying to balance consumer demands for freshly prepared food that doesn't take too long to make.

"Everybody runs, no one has time in their lives. We wanted to respect that," he said. "But we wanted to give Belgium goodness to people."

With Daysi Calavia-Robertson


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