Scott Querry, the owner of Solstice Chocolate, has spent the last 15 years perfecting his bean-to-bar chocolates. He started making the treat as just a hobby, but last year he turned it into a thriving business.
How did you get interested in making chocolate bars?
I have always been interested in strange things. I did research online and taught myself. When I first started, I made a lot of mistakes. I still constantly taste the chocolate until I get to the point where I say, “This is good.”
What made you decide to turn your chocolate-making hobby into a business?
My daughter wanted a good job, so she urged me to start the business so she would have a place to work. We rented a commercial kitchen space, and that’s how it started. People call it a chocolate factory, but it’s only 450 square feet. We do everything in this building—sorting, roasting and grinding.
Can you explain how your chocolates are different from those offered by the big-name companies?
For one thing, my batch size is 50 pounds produced in three days. In comparison, Hershey’s probably makes that same amount every minute. Also, we sort all the chocolate beans by hand and look for the beans with the most consistent sizes. I hate to sound cliché, but it’s all about the care and the love that goes into the process.
What’s one of the best compliments you have received from a customer?
At the farmer’s market, one of my customers said, “This is what chocolate is supposed to taste like!” I loved that.
Do you have a specific business plan that you are following?
It’s funny. We had a three-year plan and a five-year plan for our business, and we’ve already met those goals. We’ll have to create a new business plan.
What do you think of the business climate in Salt Lake City?
We have great vendors who support local businesses. The business climate is conducive for someone who wants to make a good product. I am very happy with the support I have received.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring gastronomical entrepreneurs?
Go for it. Do your research ahead of time. The food regulations can be tricky, but there are a lot of great resources within the state to help you. Also, we discovered that the farmer’s market is a great thing; I recommend that to everyone. You never know if your product is any good if you are only giving it to friends and family.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult thing is just finding enough time to get everything done. There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes, the day-to-day stuff. It is a pretty involved process, and there’s no rushing it. You can’t say, “I will cut corners.”
Why did you pick the name Solstice Chocolate?
There are two chocolate bean harvests each year, and they occur roughly around the same time as the solstices. I wanted a name that spoke to that—something that makes you think of where the chocolate comes from.
You offer only dark chocolate bars. How can you convince diehard milk-chocolate fans to sample your bars?
Just try it! I love to see people’s faces when they try my chocolate. Some people think they don’t like dark chocolate, but many of them change their minds after they try ours. In fact, someone told me, “I never liked dark chocolate until I tried yours. Now that’s all I want.”