It’s time for the next chapter of the Cocoa Bean.
Eileen Seeley, who has owned the longtime Northfield candy store since 1998, has sold the business to Grania Garnighian, a Lakeville woman who plans to enhance the offerings of the downtown shop.
Garnighian will maintain the integrity of the core business of Cocoa Bean—homemade candy—but she’s going to flip it into more of a bakery, offering a variety of crepes and European-influenced pastries.
She said the European approach to desserts is a healthier alternative to American fare, which is often rich in butter and cream. Garnighian also wants to eventually use Stevia, a natural sweetener, in her products.
Along with the changes comes a new name: The Cocoa Bean Café.
“It’s going to be a totally different type of establishment,” said Garnighian, who lives in Lakeville with her family.
The shop will continue to operate as-is through Christmas. Garnighian will then shut it down for a week and reopen in the new year with its new model.
However, during Winter Walk on Thursday, Dec. 6, those who stop by can get a taste of future offerings as sweet to-go crepes will be available.
Garnighian and her husband, Eric, were considering opening a bakery in downtown Lakeville, but said the charm of Northfield, including the college influence, made it a more attractive option.
Garnighian said Cocoa Bean's three part-time employees will keep their jobs and there likely will be the need for more help once the new business model is in place.
Cocoa Bean has been at its 515 Division St. S. address since 2007. Before that, it had two homes on the Nutting Block dating back to the mid-1980s.
As for Seeley, it was the right time to sell.
“We’re empty-nesters,” Seeley said of her and husband Marvin. “We’re heading in different directions and I want to sew all day.”
It will also allow for Seeley to occasionally travel to the West Coast to help her daughter, Bri, with her growing brand in the fashion industry.
After 14 years with Cocoa Bean, Seeley wants to see the business continue to thrive. She said she’ll be around to to help Garnighian learn the ropes.
“I have as much invested as they do to make sure the business remains successful in Northfield,” Seeley said. “Anything she needs help with I’ll be there.”