By Caroline Lanni
ASHLAND – It is one big chocolate wonderland at Dulce D Leche, with the making of so many delicious treats for the Valentine’s Day holiday weekend.
Dulce D Leche owners are preparing both their locations for the Valentine’s Day rush of chocolate, desserts, and hot chocolate bomb orders.
Husband and wife owners Jules Remenar and Sam Stavar have had this business Dulce D Leche for five years.
They opened the first location in Framingham, off Edgell Road, and opened the much-larger Ashland location just over a year ago,
At their newer location in Ashland, the cafe has a higher ceiling and more space for social distancing, said Remenar.
“The good news is people do a good job spreading themselves out. Typically the rush [Valentine’s Day] is just the day of and maybe the day before,” said Remenar.
He added that Valentine’s is a holiday for the last-minute shoppers.
Dulce D Leche can bring orders outside for those who are not comfortable coming inside due to COVID, he said.
“We do primarily boxes of chocolate and we actually design every year at least one new special chocolate for Valentine’s day, and we have recurring chocolates we make for Valentine’s Day every year,” said Remenar.
They have four small hearts that have soft caramel inside with different flavors to choose from, said Remenar, the chocolatier.
Dulce D Leche also has two special bon-bons with white chocolate ganache inside, said Remenar.
This year’s specialty is an “intense” strawberry ganache inside a dark chocolate square, he said.
Remenar wanted to add that there is another special they do for Valentine’s Day, that they can repeat for Mothers Day upon request. Those are large dark chocolate hearts filled with a fresh raspberry marshmallow.
“It’s amazing to us because we only make them once a year and people remember them and come looking for them,” said Remenar.
Dulce D Leche’s hot chocolate bombs have been extremely popular since Thanksgiving, and now they have heart-shaped ones, too.
Remenar said the hot chocolate bombs have been very popular and are being sold in eight different stores in the Boston and MetroWest area. The stores sell them from $5 to $7, depending on the flavors.
“The most popular is milk chocolate and we have eight flavors,” said Remenar.
Dulce D Leche makes a diablo bomb, which is a smoked chili powder cinnamon. There is also a sea salt in dark chocolate bomb, too.
Dulce also makes a mocha latte which is milk chocolate with a full serving of instant espresso per bomb, he said.
“One other Valentine’s speciality we do are the chocolate covered strawberries,” said Remenar. Dulce D Leche can dip the strawberries in different chocolates, white, dark, and milk chocolate.
Remenar said they still offer espresso coffee, sandwiches, gelato, at the cafe. Plus they have added frozen entrees to the menu, like chicken pot pie, cheese lasagna, meat lasagna, etc.
“We’ve always had the gelato shop, but with the pandemic custom cakes and small cakes from bakeries have become much more popular because people are not going out for birthday celebrations at restaurants anymore, so they are buying themselves a special cake instead,” said Remenar.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the couple said they have had struggles with fewer customers than normal and “a lot less revenue coming in,” so they applied for state grants to help.
“We have certainly had to work understaffed as well, simply because not enough revenue is coming in to pay all the bills,” said Remenar.
Holidays help. First Valentine’s Day, then Easter, and the Mother’s day.
Remenar said their work is very specialized and it is hard to get workers to come in for this specialized work to be done.
“There is a lot to be done and not enough people to do it,” he added.
One helpful thing to come out of COVID was Gov. Bakers rule that bars have to serve entrees with a drink. It allowed Dulce D Leche to see their frozen entrees at a brewery, which was financially helpful, said Remenar.
Remenar said they have been offering “Cookie Kits” too. Customers get three shortbread cookies, two colors of their buttercream frosting, and two kinds of sprinkles per kit.
“They are really aimed at the younger kids. It was the Ashland moms group who had actually asked us to start doing it, and they were particularly interested in kits that were appropriate for kids under 6 years old,” said Remenar.
Right now, Dulce D Leche has a “very low coffee business,” but they do get walks-ins still at the Framingham store.
“Most people who come here are coming with a purpose,” said Remenar.
There has been an increase in customers wanting cakes or special desserts for birthdays now, he added.
The Framingham location is open 1030 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 1030 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends.
In Ashland, Dulce D Leche is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, he added.
“We have Valentine’s chocolates ready to go,” said Remenar.
Caroline Lanni is a 2021 spring SOURCE intern. Lanni is a senior communications major with a minor in journalism at Framingham State University. She wants to pursue a media career in broadcast journalism. She is a member of the dance team at Framingham State.
Petroni Media Company photos for Framingham & Ashland SOURCE