Move over, Willy Wonka — Doc Burnstein’s is opening a chocolate factory in SLO County

Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab is launching a sweet new venture: chocolate.

The local ice cream chain — which opened its first non-Central Coast shop in Chico on Sept. 28 — is expanding to include a chocolate factory in Nipomo.

Doc Burnstein’s corporate promotions manager Molly Kasdan confirmed to The Tribune on Monday that the company is in the process of getting permits and approval for the the production facility at an as-yet-undisclosed location in Nipomo.

If all runs smoothly, the chocolate factory should be up and running just in time for the holiday season on Nov. 1, she said.

Kasdan said the move into chocolate was a natural one for the expanding Central Coast ice cream chain.

“We’ve had other products we introduce over the holidays like fudge, but we realized that a lot of places we see that are successful have a second item they sell that is popular,” she said. “Our founder, Greg Steinberger, had a vision of selling chocolate.”

After a chance encounter with local candy maker Gerald Reed, who had just retired from his Arroyo Grande chocolate shop, Gerald’s Olde Tyme Chocolates, the vision took flight, Kasdan said.

For the past year, Reed has been working with Doc Burnstein’s to test and develop a signature chocolate recipe. Now it’s ready to launch, Kasdan said.

Though she was mum on the specifics, Kasdan said the chocolates would mimic or pair with some of the brand’s more popular ice cream flavors.

They would be sold in packets akin to See’s Candies and other chocolate brands, though Kasdan said she was not aware of specific package sizes or prices yet.

Doc Burnstein’s plans to produce about 150 pounds of chocolate per day at the 2,000-square-foot Nipomo facility, Kasdan said.

Chocolate production manager Cale Munro said the chocolates would include traditional styles such as creams, chews, caramels, brittles and barks, and would use “generations-old” recipes that have been passed down from Reed.

“We’re going to take really traditional old school recipes and carry them on,” Munro said. “And then in some instances, we’ll give them a Doc Burnstein’s twist.”

It’s still undecided whether the chocolate will be available for purchase at the Nipomo factory, both Kasdan and Munro said.

Instead, the company will focus first on selling the sweets through the company’s scoop shops around the Central Coast and in Chico, before later expanding to online orders through the Doc Burnstein’s website.

“I think it’s hard to find truly truly handmade products these days,” Munro said. “These products are made with an incredible amount of love, and with the best ingredients we can find. We don’t cut any corners.”

He added: “There’s much more to come and we are excited to fully announce our line.”

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.