A sweet dream: The best of chocolates under one roof

Nov 02, 2011

A Sweet Dream: The Best of Chocolates Under One Roof

America is the land of opportunity, where the entrepreneurial spirit thrives. Each year, an estimated 600,000 businesses are created. For some, it’s about taking a chance on a “big idea.” For others, like Michael Freeman, it’s about carrying out a vision. After losing his job, Freeman decided to fulfill his dream: providing the best of the world of chocolate under one roof in San Francisco. With the money he had saved up, he travelled throughout Europe in search of the best chocolates. Yet, when it came time to open up shop and distribute these delicacies, Michael didn’t know much about how to finance it.

“To guess and leave the business side up to chance would have been dangerous. I had a mortgage and an investment account with Bank of America and asked for a referral to help me with a business.” Michael said. “That’s when I met Rob.”

Michael met with Rob Glenn, a Client Manager at Bank of America, who walked through the steps to start his business. Six months—and one well-thought-out business plan later—Bank of America lent him the capital and provided the banking services he needed to get started.

CocoaBella Chocolates opened in November 2004 in San Francisco's Marina district, featuring the finest chocolates from Belgium, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Canada and the United States. After this first location, Michael saw the potential for another in a new area of Westfield Mall: a prime sidewalk-level space. Rob knew how to make it happen again and helped finance CocoaBella’s second location.

“Now, after seven years, Michael knows all the services and we are able to really talk about his future and where he wants to take his business,” said Rob.

At the beginning, CocoaBella had three employees. Today, there are 25 employees in San Francisco, plus operations in Kansas City, Missouri. Plans for future growth include moving beyond San Francisco into the Bay area, and then perhaps to New York City. Michael hopes to have 10 locations in the near future.

“Small business drives our economy and, at Bank of America, we have established a division that is dedicated to their needs,” said Rob. “We have the resources of a large bank, but it’s managed and staffed by people from the local community, so it feels like a community bank.”

Knowing that Bank of America can meet his needs anywhere in the United States or internationally provides Michael peace of mind and allows him to focus on his business.

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Our plan for the future is to take CocoaBella Chocolates...across the country. And one of the things that makes me confident in our abilities to do that is that Bank of America is gonna be there with us every step of the way.

Michael Freeman
Owner, CocoaBella Chocolates