French Broad Chocolates

Dan and Jael Rattigan



What is your favorite part about being a restaurant owner in Asheville?

D – The community of restaurant owners exemplify why we chose to live and work in this town and in this industry.

J – Definitely agree with Dan! The community is collaborative, friendly and supportive and many of them have become close friends. I also love that so many people visit Asheville for the express purpose of enjoying a culinary experience. I appreciate the curiosity, passion, and desire to learn that people bring into our Chocolate Factory and Chocolate Lounge.

What is the background of your restaurants name?

D – First we were French Broad Luscious Chocolates: a mouthful! In our restaurant name, we wanted to convey a sense of place, being part of WNC, and be a community gathering space for something sweet. Chocolate is the heart of what we do. Lounge is an attitude we invite our guests to bring to their experience! Still a mouthful, but easy to abbreviate as well…

J – French Broad is the name of a river. 🙂 We chose this name because we wanted our company name to evoke a sense of place and communicate that we are an Asheville company. As Dan said, Chocolate Lounge communicates our intention to invite our guests into a space where they can enjoy the company of their friends, family or colleagues over chocolate. It’s not just a chocolate shop, but an experience and a community gathering space.

What ingredient could you not live without? 

D – Haha haha, chocolate.

J – We definitely couldn’t do any of what we do without the amazing cacao that our farmer partners grow, ferment and dry. That is the foundation of every chocolate bar, bonbon, brownie and brûlée that we create from scratch.

What is your favorite dish on your menu? 

D – Our caramelized hazelnuts dredged in milk chocolate.

J – I’m kind of obsessed with our nibby chocolate chip cookies. 15 years in the sweets business, and that’s still my favorite dessert.

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR restaurant?

D – Gan Shan Station’s ramen is making my mouth water presently, but there are so many awesome restaurants.

J – Li’l Burger and fries from Foothills Butcher

Why did you decide to open your restaurant in Asheville?

D – Asheville fights above its weight in sustainable food systems and small business support.

J – We were living in Puerto Viejo, running a restaurant in this small village in Costa Rica. We were ready to move and begin our next chapter but were completely open to where we’d end up. When we described what we were looking for in our next home to friends and travelers – a place to start a small business, an amazing food scene, a good place to play outdoors, place to raise a family – over and over, people said “you guys would love Asheville.” I had never even heard of it, but when enough people suggest something, I listen. We came for a visit for five days, and after experiencing it for ourselves, we were ready to call Asheville home. We’ve now been here 13 years!

What is your favorite chef’s small tool business and why? 

D – Scale. From confection recipes to pastries, to coffee, great execution and consistency requires precise measurement.

J – Definitely agree a scale is key to baking and confections! I also love my one piece, bright red silicone spatula and use it every day.  It’s sturdy, easy to clean, doesn’t burn, and eliminates waste by getting every lick of chocolate or batter from a bowl or pot.