£2.5 million Chocolate Harbour complex to open in Bristol next year
A MAJOR new attraction based around Bristol's chocolate heritage is to open on the Harbourside by next summer.
The £2.5 million Chocolate Harbour complex will include a visitor centre, shop and a high quality restaurant and is planned for the building which was occupied by the Chicago Rock bar.
The visitor centre is the brainchild of Clifton-based entrepreneur Laurence Trackman and is part of the drive to breathe new life into the Harbourside area.
Mr Trackman has already signed a deal to
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convert the 8,000 square foot building next door to the Watershed subject to raising the investment needed.
The businessman has also been talking to Destination Bristol and the city council about the project for several months.
Even though chocolate is no longer made in Bristol, the city has an association with the UK's favourite treat stretching back to 1847.
Until Joseph Fry invented the chocolate-making process in his Bristol shop, people either drank cocoa with hot milk or used it as an ingredient in cooking food.
This year, the closure of Cadbury's Somerdale factory in Keynsham marked the end of chocolate production in the city.
Mr Trackman said: "It is an absolute tragedy that Kraft have decided to close the Cadbury factory, and it is important that the links with the industry are maintained.
"Bristol is where solid eating chocolate was invented and long before that the city was at the forefront of chocolate's development. Small independent chocolate cafes are beginning to appear across the country and supermarkets are stocking new high quality chocolate ranges."
Mr Trackman added: "Some of the money is in place and we are close to getting the investment we need.
"This is an exciting project and we are talking about a major visitor attraction. I have signed a lock-out agreement on the building subject to the funds becoming available. We are bringing something to the city which will be a major attraction."
The Chocolate Harbour will include a multimedia exhibition on the history of chocolate, a restaurant, a chocolate shop, and an in-house chocolaterie.
Mr Trackman said: "We are talking about the highest quality chocolate and the plan is to include dishes in the restaurant which use cocoa. We will also have an in-house chocolaterie to create deserts.
"There is an increasing demand for high-quality, Fairtrade organic chocolate rather than the sugary mass-market chocolate often sold in supermarkets, and Chocolate Harbour will tap in to that demand."
Mr Trackman describes himself as a social entrepreneur and is the driving force behind the Jazz Age garden parties which are held across the South West.
The social side of the Chocolate Harbour project will include the creation of the Chocolate Harbour Trust, a charity set up to help cocoa producers in Ghana.
As reported in the Evening Post, Destination Bristol has been working to try and improve the Harbourside and make it more family friendly and less bar orientated.
A new bistro called the Harbourside specialises in classical music, locally sourced food and fine wine has recently opened and the aim is to make the district more friendly.