The Blog

By   –  Senior Staff Writer, Charlotte Business Journal

T.J. and Melissa Faber are taking their sweet tooths to the next level.

The couple plans to open the first East Coast franchise location of Tifa Chocolate & Gelato in Charlotte this May. That dessert cafe will be located in a 1,958-square-foot space in Ballantyne Village.

“We could see Tifa being a part of the neighborhood and community,” T.J. says. “Everyone needs a little joy.”

Tifa executive chef Candace Orr has created a variety of house-made truffles, bon-bons, caramels and nut clusters. Artisan chocolate bars are available from around the world; there’s even a drinkable chocolate.

Gelato comes in 24 different flavors with options such as vanilla bean, cookie butter, strawberry balsamic and pistachio lemon curd as well as rotating seasonal varieties. The selection also includes dairy-free and sugarless flavors.

Fresh pastries from cookies to maple butter scones are available. Drinks include espresso, pour-over coffee and cold brew, teas and tea lattes.

“It kind of meets everyone’s spectrum of what kind of sweet tooth they have that night,” TJ says.

The couple first stumbled across Tifa when living in Southern California. The family-owned brand got its start as an online chocolate company. Tifa’s first brick-and-mortar store opened in Agoura Hills, California, in April 2008. It has since grown to five locations total and started franchising.

“We both just fell in love with it from the moment we walked in. We knew it was special,” Melissa says. “You’re surrounded by so much charm.”

Visits became a part of their regular routine — then their careers led them to Charlotte.

“We looked around and we just missed Tifa,” she says. “Then it became a daily discussion.”

The couple decided to open their own store. The total investment to open one location is between $308,200 and $499,400, which includes the initial franchise fee of $37,500. Additional cafes are possible in the SouthPark and Myers Park neighborhoods, based on how it is received.

Gais Construction has been tapped as general contractor. Michael Parker Studios in Charlotte and aNicholls Design out of California are the architects on the project

Keely Hines with Foundry Commercial represented Tifa on the deal.

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