Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Retail & Industry
Published on January 27, 2022
Ghirardelli Square renovating all of its chocolate shops in two-year upgradePhoto via

Fisherman’ Wharf chocolate destination Ghirardelli Square replaced and upgraded its illuminated marquee sign in October 2020. But as the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company celebrates its 170th anniversary this year, now they’re renovating the myriad of chocolate shops inside the square. The company recently announced that they’re renovating the chocolate shops inside Ghirardelli Square, with the first set of upgrades expected to be completed in May. 

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The redesigns are being handled by Eight Inc, who’ve previously designed Apple stores and high-end distilleries. "Ghirardelli is not only a pioneering premium chocolate brand but also a beloved San Francisco institution,” Eight Inc managing principal Edmond Kuan said in a release. “The renovated spaces will give locals and visitors a full sensory experience centered on the company's world-famous chocolates and breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay—timeless attractions that people of all ages can enjoy."

The plans include opening a new pop-up shop “in January,” but the big renovations are scheduled to start rolling in by May 2022. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Experience Store’s in-person custom mix option, Pick & Mix, will be “blending digital and physical elements” and “allowing visitors to choose from more than 20 flavors of Ghirardelli's chocolate squares available every day, plus rotating seasonal squares.”

The Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is up next, where a number of the back-of-the-house chocolatier contraptions (including hot fudge machinery!) will be brought out to operate in public view. The ice cream shop’s interior will also be newly “adorned with details like custom hand-crafted tiles in Ghirardelli's signature royal blue from Bay Area-based Heath Ceramics and retro advertising from throughout the company's storied history.”

Renderings of the renovations are not yet available, and the price tag on the upgrades was not disclosed.

While the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company opened in 1852, Ghirardelli Square as we know it did not open until 1893, when Domenico Ghirardelli bought the entire block to build his chocolate factory. It opened as a public square and plaza in the mid-1960s.

Ghirardelli, which since 1998 has been owned by Swiss company Lindt and Sprüngli, long since moved its actually manufacturing facility to San Leandro — but you can still visit the historic factory at the Square, which is also now an ice cream shop.

And as such, Ghirardelli Square is not just for chocolate anymore. It now houses a luxury hotel, and several shops, restaurants, and a culinary school. And in a great bit of local lore, the plaza’s beloved mermaid fountain was designed by renowned sculptor Ruth Asawa. The fountain was enormously controversial when it was unveiled in 1968, because of its depiction of breastfeeding.