La Bontà

090320132130It must not be a surprise to any of my readers, that I love passion. Whenever I go to a place, and I meet someone with a passion, I get energized. It triggers me. When I meet people with a passion, who have turned their dreams into something real, I want to know more about them. These are the people that made me want to create Cassette Culture. These are the people that feed my passion time and time again.

Last Saturday I had the honour to meet one of those passionate souls. I spent the weekend at my parents’ as they had promised me to visit this little chocolate shop in Roermond many times before, now we had time for it, there was no excuse thinkable to skip it. They had been very enthusiastic about this shop for a long time and today I got to experience why.

As we walked into the shop, there was no table available for us. We made a reservation and walked around for a bit. When we returned, a table right in front of the counter was available. We had a nice overview from there so I could observe the entire shop. My mom ordered chocolate milk with orange flavour and dad and I ordered very thick Spanish chocolate milk with a hint of coffee. Obviously we had to order some sweet pie as well. My parents got themselves a lovely piece of chocolate pie, I myself ordered a piece of white chocolate cherry pie.

551926_331382916956742_1302186803_nAs we were waiting for our order, I couldn’t help but walking around, looking at the interior of the shop and making pictures of all the lovely chocolate. I know it is lovely, as my parents had already fed me their little pieces of chocolate arts, so soothing, so satisfying.

The owner of the shop advised me on a better angle for the photos and we started this little conversation. That’s when I knew this was a lady with passion, who was not afraid to work for her dreams. She told me how she gave up her job as kindergarten teacher and her house after working abroad for two years. She got back to the Netherlands and sold her house. Today she is selling over 75 kilos of chocolate a week. Good chocolate. She used to make her chocolates herself, but as the number of customers grew, she had to hire someone to take care if this, as she wanted to be in the shop, talking to her customers.

090320132136With a twinkle of someone who is in love in her eyes, she enthusiastically continues: “I never did any advertising. As soon as people have been her once, they come back. And they tell others, and that is how my name got spread. There are moments there are other entrepreneurs snooping around, trying to figure out how I do it. I know shops have been opened according to the concept I build, but people keep coming back to my place. There is a certain amount of authenticity that you need I guess, a passion, a love for what you are doing. When they start doing it for the money, and not from their heart, they will never be able to grow something real. I will never open up any franchises, as I would not be able to be there, and this is my shop. I am not doing it alone. I have my employees, who back me up 100%. I have great employees.”

That she did her homework before she opened up the shop is clear. “If I had opened up a shop more up north in the country, I could have created chocolates with more remarkable flavours, like red peppers and ginger, now I sell chocolates that are inspired by the Belgium chocolates. What makes them special is not the remarkable flavours, but the quality. The quality of the ingredients, the quality of the chocolatier that makes them, and of course, the love and passion that goes into it.” And I must agree with her. It is not only the passion that goes into making these little pieces of art, it is the passion that runs through the veins of the shop owner and her employees, and, not to forget, the love for chocolate of her customers. As we are enjoying our pie and drink, a regular customer comes in with a little shopping list of flavours that he has been asked to buy, to bring home to his wife(?), his mother (?). I hear him say: “last time she was satisfied, so we choose the right options, I guess I can’t do it wrong this time either.”

090320132132Listening to the owner of La Bontà, is like listening to my mother telling me stories when I was still a little girl. With someone with this amount of love for her work, the right mixture of entrepreneurship, passion and attitude, I wonder where it comes from. “This is a childhood dream for me. It must have helped that I have a family history of hospitality, entrepreneurs and teachers. I have learned a lot from listening to their stories. That, and my interest for marketing and hospitality made it a lot easier for me. Also getting that little push from a friend who made me realize that it was the right time to open my own shop, two years ago, made it all possible. The name La Bontà was also given to me by a friend. La Bontà means ‘all the good things’, wealth or affluence, in a good way. When we were working on the interior of the shop, this entire counter was stacked with chocolate. He was talking to me and used that word and I knew that it was a great name for this shop.”

If it wasn’t for the parking meter running empty, I could have talked to the owner for many more hours, but it was time to go. I will definitely return. I know many people will return. I know that this is one of those shops that have the potential of having rows and rows of people waiting outside the shop in order to get a taste of the passion, the magic, that is going on in here.

Check out La Bontà here.

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