When Nutella Cafe opened last year, it created huge buzz around the city as the only spot in the country dedicated to serving the popular hazelnut-chocolate spread. While unique, it also builds on the latest trend of dessert-focused restaurants, many of which also have event space. After all, when there’s cake, there’s a party.
Dylan’s Candy Bar; Chicago
Located on Michigan Avenue, Dylan’s Candy Bar is Chicago’s sweet-tooth sanctuary, with two floors of whimsical confectionary offerings including a cotton-candy machine, a 3-D candy printer and an app that allows customers to design their own chocolate bar wrappers. “A lot of the corporations and businesses looking at our space for an event want that new, one-of-a-kind thing,” says Katie Lucas, associate director of events and corporate gifting. “We have team-building challenges and a lot of cool dessert stations, like s’mores bars, doughnut walls and candy cocktail making.” Event spaces include a private party room that seats 40, a downstairs café plus bar and patio for 100 guests and a second-floor rental for 200 people. The entire store also can be bought out for events welcoming up to 350 candy-crazed guests.
Bang Bang Pie Shop; Chicago
Home-baked pies and café comforts are on the menu at Bang Bang Pie Shop, with locations in Logan Square and Ravenswood. Crowdfavorite pies, such as Key lime and chocolate pecan, are made with locally sourced ingredients, while other menu options change monthly to reflect the season. For private events, the Logan Square location can be rented out to host up to 100 guests, where as the Ravenswood location allows for 35 people seated or 60 standing. “We continue Midwestern cooking traditions, and are eager to serve up a unique take on hospitality, decadence and café life,” says Trish Henry, director of wholesale, catering and events. “We have an inviting patio at both shops, plus gingham décor and cute plates that are reminiscent of a picnic to always make you feel at home.”
Sugar Factory; Rosemont
For planners looking for an over-the-top dessert experience, Sugar Factory has a menu that delivers. Selections range from smoking candy goblet cocktails to gourmet ice cream sandwiches. “Our world-famous King-Kong sundae has the biggest wow factor,” says Melanie Papandrea, director of events, of the concoction made up of 24 scoops of ice cream topped with chocolate and caramel sauce, whipped cream, waffle cones, giant unicorn pops, sparklers, assorted cakes, treats and candies. The 9,000-square-foot space in Rosemont includes a retail store, dining room, full bar and the Chocolate Lounge, a cozy space available for gatherings of up to 50 guests. Sugar Factory offers both standard reservations and catered events, with a variety of enticing party add-ons.
Le Chocolat du Bouchard; Naperville
Cacao lovers flock to Le Chocolat du Bouchard in Naperville for “death by chocolate,” in more ways than one. The cheekily named moist chocolate cake—filled with chocolate, topped with chocolate and decorated with chocolate—is one of many tempting desserts offered alongside other treats here, like carrot cakes and French macarons. “Le Chocolat is more like a mini complex. We have an espresso bar, a wine bar, a chocolate shop, a patisserie, a party room upstairs and a French bistro,” says owner Cathy Bouchard. “I am not a chocolatier, I’m a chocolate connoisseur. I try to travel and get the best of the best chocolate that I can find, whether it’s domestic or imported.” The venue offers a Parisian loftstyle event space for up to 40 guests as well as a variety of packages, including elegant fondue parties and dessert extravaganzas. For larger events, the entire 6,000-square-foot venue can be rented out to satisfy as many sweet tooths as possible.