Lounging Around

Never one to shy away from new ideas, chocolatier Marc Forrat takes a proven bistro concept to the north end

Photo: Marc Forrat

FOR MARC FORRAT, life as an entrepreneur is indeed like a box of chocolates.

The Brazilian-born chocolatier knows the sweet taste of success, having slain the Dragons on CBC’s business reality show, Dragons’ Den, in 2006. He also knows the bitter taste of disappointment. The deal ultimately fell through and Forrat was back where he started—building his business one artisanal truffle at a time.

Londoners have been enjoying Forrat’s handcrafted treats since he set up his chocolate shop in Covent Garden Market in 2003. He is also a partner in a successful bistro lounge in Byron, open since 2011.

“If I am not a household name, it’s my own fault. London has the clientele. I have the support to grow. But I allowed myself to be distracted” —Marc Forrat

After Dragons’ Den, Forrat tried his hand as a distributor, working with store owners in Yellowknife, Hamilton and Windsor. He briefly opened a café bistro on Dundas Street and a second retail location on Richmond Row. Last year, he partnered with an investor to develop an all-natural ­chocolate protein bar. The relationship went sour and the concept is on hold.

“If I am not a household name, it’s my own fault. London has the clientele. I have the support to grow. But I allowed myself to be distracted,” Forrat says.

Now refocused, the 45-year-old is setting his sights on London’s booming north end.

Forrat’s Chocolate Lounge is set to open in Fanshawe Park Place plaza by the end of this year.

“One of the most successful approaches we’ve had was the lounge in Byron,” Forrat explains. “Opening another location is something I’ve always had my eyes on.”

Once fully renovated, the former variety store will be ­furnished with sofas, fireplaces and soft lighting. “For the lack of a better word, it will be very sexy,” Forrat says.

The 1,900-square-foot space will have seating for around 60 guests and will offer a European-inspired menu featuring sweet and savory crepes, cold-cut platters, chocolate fondue and open-faced smores, as well as house-baked croissants, pastries and baguettes.

Photo: Marc Forrat aims to open his new Masonville bistro by year’s end

The fully licensed venue will also offer a selection of wine, port and liquers and more than 35 varieties of Nespresso coffee.

It will be open days and nights, and will host live music and be available for private parties or corporate events.
The venue will also include a retail space, where patrons can purchase Forrat’s famous truffles, bars, caramels, ­clusters and dipped treats to enjoy at home.

Forrat says the Masonville lounge and chocolate shop will serve as his main production space and new business ­headquarters, although he plans on keeping his Covent Garden store.

He feels confident the north-end demographic will make his new venture a success. “For once, this is my store. I am not building it to leave to my staff to run,” he says. “I’ll spend my days here. I love hosting, so this is a natural thing for me.”  Nicole Laidler