RIDLEY PARK— Everyone can use a little chocolate therapy here and there. Tim and Karen Monahan have found the sweet truth to that statement.
The couple opened Chill Out Chocolate Therapy at 19 E. Hinckley Ave., in the heart of the Ridley Park business district, in April and the aroma of rich, decadent chocolate has been wafting from the sweet shop ever since.
In addition to homemade chocolate everything, from truffles and sea salt caramels to bark and fudge, Chill Out Chocolate Therapy features homemade cakes and hand-decorated cookies, dessert breads and anything necessary to satisfy a sweet tooth. Most of the sweets are made on-site.
“My brownies are incredible,” shared Karen. “I have a secret recipe that is second to none. My brownies are, honestly, the best brownies you will ever have in your lifetime.”
The shop has the usual and the unusual chocolate dipped and chocolate covered treats, including strawberries, blueberries, cherries, Oreos, Swedish fish, glazed donuts, Twizzlers, Twinkies, Devil Dogs, Gummy Bears, fruit slices, pretzels, potato chips, bacon, fortune cookies and more. Additionally, Chill Out Chocolate Therapy offers specialized candy and sweets for each season and holiday.
This month, it’s all things fall, from caramel and chocolate apple taffy, Halloween-decorated candies and cookies, to Sweet Potato, Pumpkin and banana breads, apple cake, and seasonal cake pops. Next month, the shop will offer sweets for Thanksgiving and then go right on to Christmas candy, holiday baked goods and festive edible gifts.
“We will customize orders,” Karen explained. “We offer party trays, gift baskets, and favors for showers, parties and other special occasions.”
Chill Out Chocolate Therapy also has a wide selection of specialty and vintage candy, many that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will remember from their childhood. Kids can enjoy filling a bag that won’t break the bank with items that include B-B Bat taffies, pumpkin seeds, wax bottles, bubblegum cigars, Kits, gold nugget gum in the sack, Satellite wafer flying saucers and more. Many sell for just a quarter or fifty cents.
Chill Out Chocolate Therapy also offers hand dipped ice cream and homemade water ice, as well as sundaes, banana splits, and hand-spun milkshakes, for those who have a yen for something cold and creamy.
The Monahans, residents of Prospect Park, came into the candy business by chance. The couple was busy running their other business, Chill Out Ice Cream and Water Ice at 12 Acres Drive, in the Leedom section of Ridley Township. The ice cream parlor, established in 2004, features homemade water ice, over 125 flavors of soft serve ice cream, and 24 flavors of hand dipped ice cream and frozen yogurt, ice cream cakes, and other sweet treats.
Fifteen years ago, Karen was working as a bookkeeper for an accountant and Tim was working at a chemical plant. He had to leave his job due to seven herniated disks in his back that surgery didn’t entirely cure. At a cross path in life, the couple began searching for a business opportunity to both change their lines of work.
Karen said that they were paging through the business opportunities listed in the Classified ads in the Delaware County Daily Times and saw a laundromat and an ice cream parlor for sale. They opted to inquire about the ice cream parlor, which turned out to be the Frosty Delight, next to the former Venice Pizza on Acres Drive. Not knowing anything about ice cream, other than that they liked it, they bought the business, renamed it Chill Out, and opened the doors to customers.
“The business has grown every year since and we are now in our sixteenth season,” Karen said, proudly. “We’re one of the few ice cream parlors in Delaware County that stays open seven days a week, year round. We stay busy, even in the winter.”
Through a business relationship she had with the owner of the former I’ll Be Dipped in Drexel Hill, Karen found out that the store was liquidating for closure. Soon after, she discovered the former site of Judy’s Ice Cream in Ridley Park was vacant and looking for a tenant.
“The timing seemed right,” Karen shared. “We already were in the sweet business at Chill Out Ice Cream and Water Ice so it wasn’t too difficult to learn the candy business. The owner of I’ll Be Dipped shared a lot of dos and don’ts with us to get us started. We opened right before Easter and never looked back.”
It’s all in the family at Chill Out Ice Cream and Water Ice and at Chill Out Chocolate Therapy. Daughters Cait, 26, and Seana, 25, both work at the stores, as well as ten other employees.
“We’re still learning the business,” Karen confessed. “We never knew that personalized hollow eggs were so enormously popular until last Easter. We ended up working through the night on several occasions, just to keep up with the huge demand.”
Asked what her favorite candy is, Karen responded quickly, saying their homemade s’mores. She said Tim’s favorites are the almond clusters or any candy that contains nuts.
“This is a tiring business, because we work so hard,” Karen shared, as she carefully arranged trays of chocolate candy corn clusters and chocolate bats and witches on sticks. “But it’s also a very fun business because we get to be creative and make people happy!”
Chill Out Chocolate Therapy and Chill Out Ice Cream & Water Ice are both open daily, seven days a week, from 12 noon to 9 p.m. The menu items are also available for delivery through Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grub Hub. For more information, call Chill Out Chocolate Therapy at 484-497-5589 or visit www.chocolatetherapyco.com/. To contact Chill Out Ice Cream & Water Ice, call 484-494-4601 or visit http://chillouticecream.com/.