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Cover Story
ChocMo Gets Hip Reviews
Expansion creates place for people to enjoy chocolate and other fun fare

Cover Story: Peter Crabtree, owner, ChocMoCBC Chocolates has created a steady following since owner Peter Crabtree opened the store in Poulsbo in 2005 — while still a teenager. Last April, Crabtree topped that achievement by expanding the business into a chocolate bistro and rebranding it to ChocMo. Since then, fans have been raving about the hip coffee shop/bistro/chocolate store fusion, and many have made it their new favorite hangout in Poulsbo.

Crabtree said everything at ChocMo is still centered around the handmade chocolates, about 20 flavors in all. In addition to the chocolates, espresso and related products, ChocMo offers a menu of wine, beer, decadent desserts and light fare such as paninis and cheese samplers.

“We’ve been steadily growing and increasing our online sales,” Crabtree said of the expansion. “I wanted to create a place where people could come in and enjoy the chocolate and other things.”

ChocMoHe used other wine bars and similar venues for inspiration to come up with a menu mix that would attract different people, and has been changing it up based on customer feedback. The menu includes beef raised on his family farm in Kingston, smoked salmon from Crimson Cove Smoked Specialties in Poulsbo, nuts from CB’s Nuts in Kingston and rotating wines, both local and from around the Northwest. One of the signatures of the chocolate side of the business remains its beer-infused chocolate, made with brews from Silver City and Sound Brewery, among others.

ChocMoThe comfortable but urban-style décor pays tribute to the Northwest. Some of the cedar for the décor came from his grandfather’s farm, and Crabtree’s father made the coffee table that decorates one side of the bistro. Local artists’ works are displayed on the walls on a rotating schedule.

Crabtree comes from a family of entrepreneurs on both sides. One grandfather, Tim Ryan, owns a construction company that employs several family members. Another grandfather owns a well-drilling company, where Crabtree’s father works. In the same family tradition, several members of Crabtree’s own family are involved with ChocMo including his parents and younger brother.

ChocMoGrowing up on the farm, Crabtree helped raise cattle, which was sold to private customers. At age 15, he decided to launch his own business after taking a culinary arts class at West Sound Academy — and to pay for equipment, he used funds from his farm work as well as from selling through a 4H program at the Kitsap Fair.

Two years later, at age 17, he opened the shop, which is still in the same location. Since the opening, he has been experimenting with new ideas including live music. Wine and chocolate pairing events on Wednesday nights are among the newest additions, and art night opening events are in the works.

“I think we provide a fun, relaxed atmosphere for people to come in and hang out, enjoy a glass of wine or beer, or great espresso,” Crabtree said.

Four employees help out at the business and Crabtree is involved hands-on with every aspect, including chocolate-making. He jokingly says he works about 90 hours a week — and that’s probably not far from accurate, considering he’s at ChocMo just about every day. Looking ahead to the one-year anniversary of the rebirth of his business, Crabtree seems content about his big move.

“I feel we’ve just hit critical mass,” he said. “We’re getting more and more enthusiasm from customers and more referrals.”

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