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Mike Riordan may have been pursuing a political science degree at Boston College, but it was his job in dining services that inspired a career path.
From a cook's helper and eventual manager in the dining hall to a long career with Domino's Pizza – and other restaurant-related positions along the way – Riordan is now applying his food service experience to MAD About Chocolate at 204 Armistead Ave. in the Triangle Building.
Riordan, under Riordan Enterprises LLC, bought the chocolate café last month from Marcel and Connie Desaulniers, aiming to remain true to the Desaulniers' vision for high-quality desserts in an art-filled atmosphere.
"We just love that Mike wants to live up to our vision," Connie Desaulniers said at MAD About Chocolate's grand reopening on March 31. "It's like we sent our kid off to college. You want them to go to the best place, and ours is in the best hands possible. The thought of closing MAD About Chocolate down would've been heartbreaking. We're glad to see it living on."
The café has rehired several employees, including Head Baker Alton Boyd, to help the high quality of the desserts remain uninterrupted in the transition.
The Desaulniers announced their decision to sell in December, and Riordan quickly seized the opportunity.
Riordan, who moved to the Williamsburg area with his wife – Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance President and CEO Karen Riordan – and daughter in 2014, has been looking for the right business opportunity in the area.
"I thought it would be something other than food service, to be honest with you. But Karen and I were walking by one day and saw the sign," Riordan said. "This basically came out of the blue. We've been loyal customers, and the quality of the food and the space is incredible."
Riordan complimented the way the Desaulniers have built out the space in the four years they owned the business, and said he plans to expand operations into what is now storage space. The café will continue to host artwork from local artists that will be available for purchase.
MAD About Chocolate will now be open seven days a week with hours currently set at 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day but Sundays, when it is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – a decision the Desaulniers said demonstrates that Riordan sees the full potential they were unable to pursue at this stage in their lives.
"Now that all the construction [along Prince George Street] is done and all these great restaurants and businesses are open, it's just the perfect time to be in this area," Connie Desaulniers said. "We love this place so much, and we're glad we found someone who has the energy to see it through."
Riordan echoed Desaulniers' excitement for the location, saying he encourages people to rediscover the Triangle Building's offerings.
"We're not in this building by ourselves. This building is a great little building with a lot to offer. I hope people come down to discover or rediscover the Triangle Building. It's a cool little place and unique to Williamsburg."