News / USA

Chocolate as a Lifestyle

June Soh

For many people, chocolate is a guilty pleasure. For sisters Frances and Ginger Park, Korean Americans, it's sweet success.  They opened Washington's first gourmet chocolate shop more than a quarter century ago. In addition to running their shop, they have published award winning books embracing their family's roots and the American Dream.

Cecilia Perry has been coming to this shop, Chocolate Chocolate, almost every day for years.

"[I come here often] because they have the best chocolate in the entire region," said Perry.

Esther Alpert comes in a couple of times a week.

"It is just so sweet and pleasant to be here.  We love these guys, and I think it is the best chocolate in the city," Alpert added.

Offering the best chocolate from around the world is what Frances and Ginger Park had in mind when they opened the first independent chocolate shop in the nation's capital 28 years ago.  

"We grew up on some very fine chocolate because our dad worked for the World Bank and would bring back European chocolate in suitcases when we were very young," said Frances Park.

When their father died in his mid-50s, the sisters grew closer and decided to go into business together.

"But we did not know what we were doing and we definitely ate more chocolate than we sold that first year," Frances Park added.  "But we learned one thing we did was we sort of over time created family with our customers."

That family has grown and includes long-time customers like Beth Smith.  

"I have been coming here for a long time, probably 20 years," noted Smith.  "She remembers the birth of my daughter.  She remembers all the, you know, I feel like family here."

Sales have increased over the decades and, today, this little shop has four staff members... including Ginger's husband and a manager.

"It is a huge success," said Ginger Park.  "I mean certainly not on the level of Donald Trump, but for us it is a huge success. We wanted to build a life around our business and that is what we did."   

The Park sisters also wanted to feed their literary side. They've co-authored eight books for children and adults. Their first, award-winning book, My Freedom Trip, is based on their mother's escape from North Korea when she was a teenager.

"We wanted to write the book as a tribute to our mother and her mother, and also perhaps to give children an idea of the price that other people had pay for freedom," said Frances Park. 

The Park sisters also published a memoir that chronicles their quarter century behind the chocolate counter.

FRANCES PARK: "It is actually about the ups and downs of two sisters who have always been very close, who went from being very young girls to being not very young girls, but still smiling."

GINGER PARK: "Everyone who comes into our shop tells us you have the perfect life, and we say yes, you know what, we do, we really do.  They go hand in hand, books and chocolate."

For the Park sisters, their little shop is packed not only with chocolate, but also with memories.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More