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Photos: Get a sneak peek of the re-designed Ghirardelli Chocolate and Ice Cream Shop

Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Experience opened Wednesday evening to a small group of individuals for a first look of their redesigned store in San Francisco, Calif. on May 18, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy

The days are getting longer and the weather is warming up. You know what that means: We are officially in that glorious San Francisco sweet spot—the month-long window of sunny skies, before Karl the Fog comes to town for the summer.

The folks at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company are as familiar with this cycle as any died-in-the-wool San Franciscan. This year marks the 170th anniversary of the confectioner’s presence in the city. And this Friday marks the grand-reopening of their flagship store in Ghirardelli Square.

Perfect timing.

Our city’s famously fickle weather patterns make mid-May to mid-June the ideal time of year for enjoying an ice cream cone or hot fudge sundae whilst people watching in a public square.

The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop celebrates its grand re-opening on Friday, May 20, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Mayor London Breed, face painting, live music and other family friendly activities. The first 170 people in the door will get a free sundae.

The shop recently underwent a major renovation that has transformed it into an interactive experience. The redesign was overseen by Eight Inc., the firm behind the open floorplan and minimalist aesthetic of Apple Stores. The Standard, and other media outlets were invited for a sneak peek in advance of the public event.

Updates to the 5,985-square-foot space now allow customers to be more involved in the chocolate-making process. Visitors can now watch as Ghirardelli staff make chocolate bars and squares, mix up hot fudge, roast hazelnuts roasting, and bake waffle cones.

At the press event Justin Reese, VP of Retail and eCommerce for Ghirardelli, said the company was happy to still be a part of San Francisco’s business community. “Travel and tourism into San Francisco was really decimated through the pandemic,” Reese said. “But things are starting to recover.”

During the pandemic, the shop at Ghirardelli Square remained open, because it was classified as an essential business. Steve Genzoli, VP of Quality Assurance and Research & Development, is in charge of the store’s new chocolate-making station. The way he tells it, remaining open throughout all the challenges of the past two years was a comfort to many.

“People may think it’s weird for us to call ourselves [an essential business], but when you think about it, people who were at home during the pandemic wanted some sort of normalcy,” Genzoli said. ”For them, making chocolate chip cookies was normal.”