TCHO Chocolate to move from San Francisco to Berkeley

Tcho SF by Essentialsaltes:CC

TCHO will move its production facility from Pier 17 in San Francisco to the Marchant Building in South-West Berkeley. Photo: Essentialsaltes

TCHO, the high-end chocolate company founded in 2005, will move its entire production and retail facility from San Francisco’s Pier 17 and an East Bay warehouse to 3100 San Pablo Ave. (just south of Ashby) in southwest Berkeley.

The company has signed a 12-year lease, with an option to grow, for 49,000 square feet in the Marchant Building, part of a 395,000-square-foot property consisting of retail, office, R&D, and light industrial space. The move will begin in April.

TCHO’s recently appointed CEO, Andrew Burke, said the move was prompted by the need for more space as the company is growing fast. “We looked extensively for a long time, but could not find the space we needed in San Francisco. The Marchant Building was the ideal mixed-use space –manufacturing/warehouse/retail/office,” he said. The new location is more than 30% larger than the Pier 17 space, which has been the company’s headquarters for the past nine years.

TCHO will move into the Marchant Building, part of a large mixed-use property at 3100 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Colliers International

The Marchant Building, which was used by the University of California as a storage facility for 28 years, straddles Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. The university vacated the building in 2010 and it has been mostly empty for the past few years, according to Berkeley’s economic development manager Michael Caplan who said the city is “pleased as punch” at the TCHO move. In 2011, the property was considered by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for its new campus, but it chose Richmond instead.

LBA Realty, which owns the Marchant Building, has renovated the entire property and other tenants, including LA Fitness and Cal, have taken space there. Clif Bar, which moved its main plant out of Berkeley to Emeryville in 2006, has taken about 18,000 square feet for what is believed to be a test kitchen. (The property’s street address was changed from 6701 San Pablo Ave. Oakland to 3100 San Pablo Ave. Berkeley in a memorandum of understanding brought before the Emeryville City Council on April 16, 2013.)


TCHO bills its product as ‘New American Chocolate’ and prides itself on its cacao sourcing program

Caplan said there has been a “clustering effect” in West Berkeley, with many artisanal food production companies, breweries and wineries setting up shop there.

“It makes perfect sense that TCHO would want to be in Berkeley,” he said. “Berkeley is known for its artisanal food production, the farm-to-table movement and culinary innovation.” Companies like TCHO and Clif Bar like to have a relationship to place, he said.

“We are proud to be joining the growing food movement in Berkeley and Oakland,” Burke said.

Caplan said the all-purpose Marchant Building, which does not qualify as a protected space under city zoning laws, offers the opportunity to have a mix of uses, be it offices, production facilities or labs.

“It’s a very cool building with industrial appeal,” he said. (Read more about the history of the Marchant Building, which is named after a company that made calculating machines.)

Caplan added that the TCHO move is part of what he sees as a “renaissance” in this specific part of South-West Berkeley, citing as evidence the expansion of the Weatherford BMW plant, the arrival of Berkeley Bowl West, and The Higby housing development on the south-east corner of Ashby and San Pablo avenues that is currently under construction.

TCHO was co-founded in 2005 by Timothy Childs, a technology and chocolate entrepreneur, and Karl Bittong, a veteran of the chocolate industry. Burke was named CEO just last week. He replaced Louis Rossetto, who co-founded Wired magazine.

TCHO’s arrival in the city comes four years after premium chocolate maker Charles Chocolates closed its operation on the Berkeley borders in Emeryville and moved to San Francisco’s Mission District. West Berkeley was also home to the Scharffen Berger factory until 2009 when Hershey, the company’s owners since 2005, moved production out of state in 2009.

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  • guest

    Scharfenberger chocolate quality seemed to dive after Hershey bought it. When big companies buy competitors just to destroy competition, it gives capitalism a bad name. Would it be so bad if we outlawed the “buy-and-kill” as an anti-competitive tactic? The consumer should be entitled to good chocolate!

  • Guest

    Great news! Hopefully they’ll make a good anchor tenant and bring other great businesses to that space.

    Here’s hoping they don’t get too big for Berkeley and get forced out of the city by lame zoning laws the way Clif Bar was.

  • Berzerkley

    Hot Diggity!!

  • berkeleywalker

    Thanks for clarifying how this location is considered Berkeley. If you Google the address, it says it’s Oakland.

  • Devin

    Good job attracting a large (and tasty) tax payer

  • Emerysnob

    The Marchant Building doesn’t come in to Emeryville, to my recollection, just Berkeley and Oakland. Pretty close, though?

  • Guest

    I believe the building is actually in all 3 cities.

  • guest

    so who gets the tax revenue?

  • NAParish

    A small triangular piece at the west end of the building (near the path) is in Emeryville.

  • Guest

    It should be the 6700 block of San Pablo ave in Berkeley

  • Mbfarrel

    Watch for Annie’s to make a move. When the moved their plant and headquarters to Berkeley they converted about 900 ft’ to office. The city gave them a ton of grief because “office space” was not allowed in that zone.

  • NAParish

    The error in Google Maps was because somebody placed the marker for Gold Coin Car wash — actually located at the corner of 31st and San Pablo in Oakland — in an incorrect location. I’ve attempted to fix the error with Google’s Map Maker, but the edit won’t be published until it is reviewed and verified.
    Note that Berkeley’s street addresses increase as you go south, while Oakland’s addresses generally increase as you go north, with abrupt changes at the city boundary, and the two cities are inconsistent as to which side gets the odd vs. even addresses. That’s how you end up with anomalies like the Sherwin Williams store at 3131 San Pablo Ave. just a few doors north of 6716 San Pablo Ave., or Shattuck Collision with an address of 3207 Shattuck Ave. immediately adjacent to a building to the south that has an address of 6618 Shattuck Ave.

  • Chris J

    Peets on fourth st lost a lot of business when that happened. The city of berkeley is also ‘forcing’ us out as retirees (no more than all of the USA economy) to overseas retirement where our $$ will go further.

  • Bill N

    Yeah, that was so dumb and bureaucratic – flexibility in city planning issues isn’t a trait this city if known for.

  • guest

    flexibility is not a trait berkeley should be known for

  • David D.

    Thanks for the heads up. I went into GMM and was able to approve your outstanding edits.

  • herself

    Welcome home, TCHO!

  • Mary

    Thanks for thé explanation- always wondered why thé Odd-éven juxtapositions existed.