Cocoa Dolce closes in Prairiefire

Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates closed Sunday — just 15 months after opening in Overland Park’s upscale Prairiefire.

Beth Tully started the business in Wichita in late 2005 and added the Prairiefire location, at 5601 W. 135th St., Suite 2220, in spring 2014. It was among the first tenants to open in the development at 135th Street and Nall Avenue.

In a statement, Prairiefire developer Fred Merrill Jr. said: “We knew that Cocoa Dolce was experiencing financial problems and have been working on an agreement with a new tenant for that space.”

In a phone interview Monday, Merrill said that he is in negotiations with a coffee and sweet goods operation — one of the fastest-growing franchises in America but one that would put a “new twist, new products” in its Prairiefire location. If all goes as planned it would open in a few weeks.

Merrill said Cocoa Dolce needed to do more advertising and marketing to promote the Overland Park location.

“Prairiefire is made up of first-to-market people. If you are new to the market you have to hit it hard. Rock & Brews has been killing it, REI has been killing it and Pinstripes (Bistro, Bowling Bocce) has been killing it,” Merrill said. “People still didn’t know about Cocoa Dolce, they didn’t know it was a coffee place in the morning. You have to get out there and market and ask for the business.”

Tully called the closing “heartbreaking.” But she disagreed with Merrill, saying she advertised, contributed to community events and fundraisers, and was active on social media, but the shop still struggled financially and was supported by the profitable Wichita location.

“There were days when we didn’t have anyone come in for hours,” she said.

The Wichita Cocoa Dolce will continue to cater events in the Kansas City area.

To reach Joyce Smith, call 816-234-4692 or send email to Follow her on Facebook and Twitter at JoyceKC