After roughly five years in business, Izard Chocolate in Hillcrest is closing up shop. Owner Nathaniel Izard launched a first-of-its-kind chocolate business in 2014, focusing first on dark chocolate bars before launching a line of dark chocolate caramels and roasted coffee. Izard Chocolate’s last day will be this Saturday, March 23, at the Beechwood Street storefront. Izard wants the occasion to be a fun one for the many fans and friends he’s made over the last half decade.
“It’s not a sad closing,” said Izard. “I mean, it’s sad that I’m gone, but it’s a celebration. A kind of retirement party, if you can retire at 27. I’m not retiring forever, obviously, just for three months or so while I figure out what’s next.”
Izard started his business at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, selling three or four varieties of dark chocolate bars wrapped in foil. His product caught on, and just a year later he had his own storefront behind The Afterthought in one of Little Rock’s busiest neighborhoods. Izard expanded his chocolate bar line, creating chocolate with sea salt, almonds, coffee and other ingredients. He also explored cacao from countries like Haiti, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Izard also began selling flavored caramels, infusing orange and raspberry and even bourbon from Rock Town Distillery into the treats. And together with friend Stephen Reimar, Izard launched Redbeard Roasters coffee in 2017, selling at the store and delivering coffee via mail.
“In a lot of ways, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Izard. “The chocolate itself, learning how to make and produce it, the story of chocolate and cacao, the farmers, learning about high-quality cacao, all of that was so much fun. And the customers, I would say, meeting so many people here in Little Rock, the media, and business owners that you meet. It’s just been a lot of fun to connect with so many people.”
Izard says the long hours and need to be constantly working to keep the business going factored into his decision to close his shop. Now only 27 years old, Izard is unsure what he will do next. A vacation is likely in order, as he hasn’t had one since opening the storefront in 2015. However, he believes the skills he’s learned as a small business owner will help him with whatever comes next.
“The immediate plan is not to commit,” said Izard. “I don’t want to jump into anything for at least three months, just to close out this business and have some time off. I have some things in mind, but I’m not ready to share those just yet. I’m going to do some traveling and kind of relax, do something else for a little while.”
On Saturday, Izard invites his fans and friends to stop in for some free hot chocolate and marshmallows all day long. Izard Chocolate will continue to sell a limited selection of chocolate bars until closing day. Izard says after that, you will still be able to find them for a time at a few locations around town, including District Fare, Eggshells Kitchen Company, Green Corner Store, and Colonial Wine and Spirits.
“I have appreciated everyone’s support,” said Izard. “Just helping me achieve the dream of a small business and making chocolate. Without everyone’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. That’s something I’m very grateful for.”