Food News

Dude, Sweet Expansion: Beloved Chocolatier Takes Treats Downtown

The next Dude, Sweet is going in on Main Street, just west of North Ervay Street downtown.
The next Dude, Sweet is going in on Main Street, just west of North Ervay Street downtown. Taylor Adams
In just a few weeks, Dude, Sweet Chocolate will sell its treats in a snazzier spot.

Nothing against the Bishop Arts spot we know and love. The new place is just going to have Neiman Marcus, Forty Five Ten and the Joule Hotel around it when Katherine Clapner opens another location of her chocolate store in downtown Dallas.

The new digs were formerly home for the Traffic store, just a couple of storefronts down from the Joule on Main Street.

When you think about this particular store coming to this particular spot in the Central Business District, it’s a reason to do a happy dance.

But we can do that while Clapner gets to work.

click to enlarge Bring on the chocolate - MANNY RODRIGUEZ PHOTOGRAPHY
Bring on the chocolate
Manny Rodriguez Photography
“It’s a terrifying space for us,” she says, standing next to the gold pillar that stands in front of the door outside.

She found out about 11 days ago that this was happening. The interior sits clean but not yet ready for a chocolate shop. But this weekend, butcher paper will go up to hide the progress until the big reveal, and we’ll see some branding go up on windows, telling passersby to “eat chocolate here.”

“The goal is to grow up here,” she says as we look out onto a store that beams out light selling high-end clothing.

She continues to say she wants to serve the woman in the Bentley and the 16-year-old on his first date, and that’s where this can be a nice thing for downtown: We have an affordable spot to drop in for quality product.

“We are the cheapest thing you can buy in the neighborhood,” Clapner says.

And by the way, she’s not new to the neighborhood: She’s lived in the Cedars 12 years and lived on Commerce Street downtown before that. She knows the CBD.

One might look at the (literally) shiny exterior of this place and think back to almost a year ago, when some of us (this writer anyway) were stopping in for the last day of Dude, Sweet on Greenville Avenue. Or doing the same in Plano.

“Lower Greenville was booming for two years. We thought it was going to outsell Bishop,” Clapner says.

But as we saw the area change further, some more sweet options came in, watering down business for the chocolate shop that would eventually close. But here, the competition is different: Dude, Sweet in this Main Street spot is one that’s going to stand on its own.

click to enlarge The interior of the space that will one day soon be filled with chocolate. - TAYLOR ADAMS
The interior of the space that will one day soon be filled with chocolate.
Taylor Adams
We’ll see fewer tastings, but they’ll still be there, and a rotation of flavors might be in, too. A seating area will give those walking around downtown streets a second to rest while taking in some rich calories.

Clapner’s putting this together as she’s prepping for the holidays: That’s not to just say she’s limited on time, but it’s affecting the budget. For those who think Dude, Sweet is a brand so established that there's plenty to go around, Clapner’s bootstrapping will make you think otherwise.

“I am the underdog on this street,” she says. “And our first impression will be vital.”

She’s shopping for how to fill the space and has plans to have a ton of light, possibly a whole bunch of mid-century lamps. She’s looking to hire three people for the store, and she’ll have later hours. (I’ll pause while downtown residents rejoice at this fact.)

Clapner has a serious expression when she says this spot will be open in a couple of weeks. Max. Let’s all expect to enjoy excellent chocolate in the CBD then.

By the way, if you’re a fan of this chocolate: Go. It’s the only way our local places stay around.

Dude, Sweet Chocolate will be at 1604 Main St., Suite 100 (downtown).
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.