If you were to poll Americans on what their obsessions are, “chocolate” and “music” would undoubtedly place at the top of many lists. And while both of those pleasures are enjoyed by a great number of people, they’re not typically associated with each other…until now.
Daniel Sklaar is a self-professed chocolate freak who decided to share his love of the creamy confection with friends, which led to founding a small business selling to local purveyors, and in 2008 establishing FINE & RAW Chocolate. His company now operates as a storefront in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, NY, specializing in a variety of raw, organic, and environmentally-friendly chocolate bars, truffles, gift items and more, but with a twist.
More than just a chocolate factory, FINE & RAW chocolate has created a lifestyle around chocolate, hosting monthly events ranging from chocolate waffle brunches, to New Year’s Eve dance parties, to movie night (featuring chocolate-covered popcorn, of course!), to live band nights and other music performances.
Daniel, whose business card reads “chocolate genius,” shares his company’s evolution and winning formula, “I started FINE & RAW in my Williamsburg loft in 2008. It was very much a grass roots concept that focused on artisan food, sustainability, creativity, fun and flavor. In 2012, I built out our flagship factory in Bushwick. The idea was to go deeper into the craft of making chocolate, establish our bean-to-bar program and have a space that we could use for events...who wouldn't want to throw an event at a chocolate factory?!”
From outrageous dance parties and live bands, to music being piped into the factory during the day while the staff makes chocolate, audio plays a big role. Daniel successfully tackled that challenge head on, with an assist from Dale Pro Audio. He explains, “We're in a mixed industrial and residential area, so we have neighbors we need to respect. That said, we wanted an audio system that was clear enough so we could have dance parties and not have to crank up the volume too much. We have three main areas in our space and wound up installing quad systems in each area. That was a good decision––the turnout is crystal clear and great!
The factory features audio gear from a variety of top brands, including a Yamaha MG16XU 16-Channel Compact Mixing console, an Allen & Heath Xone:23C High Performance DJ Mixer, a Crown XLS1002 DriveCore Two-Channel 350W Power Amplifier, Electro-Voice ELX115P Live-X Powered Loudspeakers, and a selection of Hosa cables and a snake to connect the whole band together for performances.
Daniel notes, “Dale Pro Audio was helpful, experienced and a pleasure to work with. Our sales consultant, Mike Bogen helped us out a lot by specifying the right mix of audio gear for our space and our needs. Then our resident sound maestro, Jonathon Belcher, helped to pull everything together, and we were off and running.”
As for fun, new events in 2016? Daniel gives a sneak peek: “We have a few new monthly parties being planned after our Valentine’s fund raiser. They should all be creative, authentic and wild!”