The Old Market's Jewel Box Chocolate Shop
"There's a lot to be said for everyone working together for the good of the hive," Chocolat Abeille owner Tina Tweedy says of her shop's namesake and muse, the honeybee.
This communal spirit has certainly been a North Star for Chocolat Abeille, which opened in the Old Market in December. The space, across from M's Pub, had just come available in September and Tina and her family worked round the clock to open in time for the holidays. With her husband, an iron worker by trade ("he can do or make anything," Tina says), she created the shop's French-inspired interior, and her four children each pitched in their own talents to help.
"It all came together so quickly because it's been in my head for so long," says Tina, who's worked in the Omaha restaurant industry for 23 years and had been the pastry chef at M's before the 2016 Old Market fire. She remembers looking at the space on her way to and from work and thinking what a lovely place it would be to sell her chocolates. "The design is just a part of me."
It's true that every detail in Chocolat Abeille feels like a labor of love. From the framed botanical prints of cacao pods, to the tiny gold bees embedded in the walls, to the massive copper bee sculpture (made by Tina's husband) that crowns the front door. "I want people to discover something new every time they visit," she says.
Tina makes all of her chocolates in-house with French chocolate imported by locally-owned H. Olafsson International Specialty Foods. Some contain honey from her bees (because, of course this industrious pâtissière is also a beekeeper), while others are infused with liqueurs or filled with ganache. Nearly everything traces back to the bee theme -- a chocolate called Paris (inspired by the Harney & Sons tea of the same name) is shaped like a fleur-de-lys, the symbol which the French aristocracy often used interchangeably with bees.
Tina's got big plans for Valentine's Day, including glossy red hearts with a strawberry filling, truffles with Chambord or single-malt scotch and a Frog Prince collection. As the weather warms, she's also excited to do more things with candied and fresh flowers. Come spring, she will introduce a chocolate infused with crème de violette. "If bees can dream, right now they're dreaming of violets," she says.
Me too, bees. Me, too.