We were handed keys to Liverpool institution by the legend herself

Stephen Ellis and Steve Renshaw
Stephen Ellis and Steve Renshaw -Credit:Liverpool Echo

Two colleagues turned their ideas on long work shifts into reality.

Stephen Ellis, 33, from Old Swan, spent many years working for a Liverpool chocolate company with his friend Steve Renshaw. While working long shifts, they often discussed how they would do things differently to standard chocolate companies.

Stephen told the ECHO: “We met working at a different chocolate company. We’d be working late, talking about, if this was ours, this what we do, what would be different? We both had a moment where we said, now is as good a time to do it as any.”

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In 2012, Coco Baroque was formed, aiming to find a a gap in the market for an artisan bakery and chocolatiers based in the city. For many years, they showcased their batches of chocolate brownies and buttons to Liverpool’s various farmers markets.

Stephen said it was pleasing people with his chocolate delights that kept him going throughout the years. He said: “I’d always been a fan of chocolate honestly. But I think it’s the creative side of things.

“Looking after people is a very over the top way to put it but when you see people really happy with what you’ve given to them, that’s great.”

Coco Baroque orders could also be ordered from their website and it supplied other businesses with chocolate treats. The one that had been lacking was a physical store.

Stephen and Steven outside the new Coco Baroque shop
Stephen and Steven outside the new Coco Baroque shop -Credit:Liverpool Echo

An opportunity arose after the sad news earlier this year that Dafna's Cheesecake Factory on Smithdown Road, who they had supplied chocolate to for 11 years, would be closing its doors. Stephen said at the time: "We started in 2012 and one of the first things we did was baking for Dafna's and supplying them with the cakes and chocolate they were selling in the shop. That's the business relationship that's carried on until Dafna's closed.

"The owner of Dafna's said they were planning to close but asked if we were interested in taking over the shop. We were looking for a shop ourselves at the time so we said yes."

To pay homage to the history of Dafna's on Smithdown Road, Coco Baroque will serve a selection of its own Basque cheesecakes, alongside its other cakes and chocolates.

Coco Baroque is an artisan bakery and chocolatiers
Coco Baroque is an artisan bakery and chocolatiers -Credit:Liverpool Echo

The shop will officially open its doors today, and Stephen argues it will make a huge difference to Coco Baroque. He said: “It definitely felt overdue. We’re thrilled to be here.

“A big part of it is having bakers and chocolatiers in the same place. It allows a lot of back and forth in terms of creativity.

“For example, the other day we were making orange almond cake. It struck me the other day, we should make a chocolate bar version of that. We’ve now got flexibility to do that.

“We’re going to be able to expand, take on more staff and potentially look at other things like chocolate bars and ice creams.”

Coco Baroque on Smithdown Road
Coco Baroque on Smithdown Road -Credit:Liverpool Echo

The shop will be officially opened by Cllr Richard Kemp, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats on Liverpool City Council who became the Lord Mayor last night. Stephen said: We’ve known Richard and wife Erica for years. They were some of our most early supporters when doing the farmers market.

“When we moved to the shop, the only possible people we wanted to open it were them. It just happened to coincide with Richard being the Lord Mayor.”

Stephen also feels at ease on Smithdown Road. He said: “We’ve had a really good welcome.

“It’s brilliant. The city has a lot of famous streets. I feel Smithdown Road has firmly cemented itself as one of those.”

Stephen is still coming to terms with the fact they have turned workplace ideas into one of the city’s most loved chocolatiers. He said: “I’m proud and excited for the future. Even when we were talking about what we would do, it’s hard to believe we've finally got here.”

Coco Baroque is based at 240 Smithdown Road.

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