Word to the wise

Greg Zrinyi

Photo/D. Brian Burghart

A word to the wise men: Valentine's Day is around the corner. A word to the wise, women: Men like chocolate, too. A word to the single: Chocolate is good and will make you feel better about being single on this Hallmark holiday because it's filled with oxytocin and anti-oxidants. Greg Zrinyi and Brita Ingstad own the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Zrinyi offered a word to the wise for those of us who always get stuck on Valentine's Day, picking through the last four cards on the Scolari's gift card shelf: Order early and be a hero. The store's number is 787-1212.

When did you guys open?

March of 2008.

Are people still buying chocolates for their Valentine sweeties these days?

Yes. Definitely, most definitely.

Do they favor a certain kind?

Yes, they love chocolate-dipped strawberries. That’s the big hit with our store.

So, I’m not very good at Valentine’s myself. Do they order them in a box or something? How’s it work?

Chocolate strawberries are individual pieces, so somebody will come in and either purchase one on up to 20 depending on what they want. We have different arrangements here. We have really nice packaging. We have packaging that can hold two strawberries on up to 16 strawberries.

Is it a heart-shaped box? Is it lovey-dovey?


How did you get into chocolate making?

I didn’t get into chocolate making. I’m a franchise operator. That means we have product that comes in out of Durango, Colorado. Durango, Colorado, is where our store headquarters is. Now I make some of the candies—about 60 percent are store-made, but some of our candy is made in Durango, Colorado, for us.

Oh, so you learned the skill because you bought the franchise?

Yes, they train you on it. You buy into the franchise, and they train you up at the factory. So I did my training in Durango, Colorado, and I learned how to make the candies.

My girl and I are big chocolate fans, and we stop in your place all the time. It’s all presented so beautifully. What made you choose a chocolate franchise instead of a frozen yogurt or fast food [franchise]?

My fiancee and I wanted to do something together, and it’s a perfect shop for a mom and pop opportunity. It’s nice little startup for two people. My fiancee grew up in Vail and was familiar with the Rocky Mountain name—it’s a really big franchise in Colorado, and we went up to the lake when they had their store there, and we did a walk-through together and found it to be a good fit for us, something we’d be interested in doing and trying, and we went after it.

Cool. So did you eventually marry your fiancee?

No, we’re engaged. [It turns out they were business partners before they got engaged a year ago.]

So what are you getting her for Valentine’s Day? [spoiler alert]

I’m getting her flowers, and I’ll probably get her clothes. She loves gifts like that.

But she probably gets enough chocolate at work?

Yes, she gets plenty of that here. No need to go out for that.