The McKnights opened their chocolate shop in October of 2008 at The Streets of Brentwood lifestyle center. Their hard work and dedication to the new business was recently recognized at the company’s bi-annual national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., where they were named the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory 2008 Rookie of the Year.
“Being named Rookie of the Year validated all of our hard work in the early months before actually opening the store, and then when we were brand-new business owners,” said Christine. “We have worked incredibly hard, we have put so much effort and attention to detail into this store, and we truly care about our business. We feel honored to be recognized by our colleagues and the company.”
After her early-morning stint at the shop, Christine switches gears and assumes the role of teacher at O’Hara Park Middle School in Oakley. Her husband Craig is in charge of their store full-time. When they’re not working, both parents spend their time with their 8-month-old daughter, Remmi.
In the years before opening their Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store, Christine earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in education. Craig has a background in hotel and restaurant management and worked as a fine-dining chef at private country clubs for 12 years.
“My husband and I have been together since we were 15 and 16 years old, at Liberty High School here in Brentwood, and we always talked about opening our own business,” said Christine. “Our Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store is a nice blend of our backgrounds and interests, which is the primary reason we enjoy ourselves so much.”
Craig’s hands-on culinary experience is put to use making dipped apples and fruit, fudge and other handmade favorites. With her background in marketing and banking, Christine is well-qualified for her work behind the scenes, scheduling finances, doing paperwork, managing the books and any other business need that comes up.
One of Craig’s specialties is conducting in-store candy-making demonstrations. “Fudge-making is a crowd-pleaser,” he said. Visitors gather around to watch as Craig pours melted fudge onto a marble-topped table. As the fudge solidifies, he shapes it into loaves and appreciative viewers always get a sample.
The gourmet caramel apples are another popular treat. Customers can watch as fresh Granny Smith apples are spun in caramel and then rolled in tasty toppings. The store makes more than 20 varieties, which are a favorite for fundraisers in the community. “Our fundraising programs are incredibly successful and rewarding. We make the apples fresh for each event and wrap them beautifully so they can be enjoyed as a special indulgence or given away as a unique, tasty gift,” said Craig.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also offers treats and goodie trays for special events such as weddings, baby and bridal showers, corporate events and meetings, birthday parties, anniversaries and other celebrations.
Both McKnights have called Brentwood home for most of their lives. “The community has received us very well,” said Christine. “We have fun and enjoy every day, and extend that to our customers. If a customer comes in who has had a bad day, we want to put a smile on her face so when she leaves, she feels better than before she came through our door.”