66With the opening of Suess Chocolates this Friday, Madison Valley gets its own little slice of paradise. And it’s a paradise that welcomes – with open arms – kids. Owner Dennis Haupt , a German native, created his store after noting that most chocolate shops are of the upscale, look-but-don’t-touch model. Haupt wants customers of all ages to feel welcome. “When I think of chocolate, I think of children with big buggy eyes and getting messy.”

With Suess (pronounced Zuse, which is German for “sweet”), Haupt is introducing German chocolate, which is not as overpowering or sweet as a Godiva or Ghirardelli, but is sinfully rich. He’s also bringing the fun back to chocolate. The store’s open kitchen lets customers watch as chocolate is made. Kids are encouraged to make their own creations, such as a chocolate-dipped marshmallow or pretzel. (First two self-made treats are free, and you get to eat them on the spot!) There’s also a Kids Corner, where the littles can play with toys while their parents create confections or have a pastry or cup of German coffee.

Haupt’s Chocolate Classes for adults ($45 for 1-2 hours) and kids ($20 to $25 for two hours), teach how to make everything from chocolate bars to truffles, all of which are recipes from his German grandmother. Birthday parties can be held on site or in your home. “You don’t need to be a professional to make chocolate,” says Haupt. “It’s easy, it’s fun. It’s all about getting your hands dirty.”

Suess Chocolates
2909-B East Madison Street (next to Café Flora)
Opens Friday, May 1; Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tues. through Sun.