Shawnee McKendry wields a bag of icing like a conductor waves a baton. Fluid. Smooth. And in the end, there is an orchestra of cake, icing and beauty. McKendry’s sweet symphony can be consumed at Hooked on Chocolates, Filer’s newest location for indulgence in the finer notes of chocolate, baked goods and sandwiches.
McKendry honed her skills in nearly 20 years of working in bakeries, most recently in Las Vegas. When she needed a change in her life last year, she found a home in southern Idaho near longtime friend, Shauna Garner.
At the time, Garner was in the middle of a transition herself. The youngest of her three boys had just left home. As an empty nester with a love of good food, she was looking for a new venture to channel her energies. A retired massage therapist, she had a tender touch to use in a new way.
Oh and one other thing: “She’s obsessed with chocolate,” McKendry says.
The collaborative result is a quaint shop on Filer’s Main Street. It’s in what used to be the Filer Mutual Telephone building and offers good lighting, plenty of seating and a vintage pink phone in the bathroom for a bit of kitsch.
Garner serves up custom-made chocolates imported all the way from Rexburg, Florence’s Exquisite Candies, which specializes in hand-dipped chocolates and is known for its cream centers. Candied popcorn is brought in from Pocatello. The rest of the store’s offerings are made in the small kitchen tucked behind the counter. Homemade treats like éclairs and cakes tempt the taste buds, along with brownies and plate-sized cinnamon rolls. Huge
sandwiches and soup round out the menu. They also offer a selection of gifts and custom orders.
“When I bake, it relaxes me,” says Garner, as she adds spices and fresh ingredients to the soup of the day. “I love to cook for other people.”
Garner says it took a “leap of faith” to open the new business Oct. 8, 2007. She thought about opening in Twin Falls where there might have been more traffic and more customers. But she’s lived in Filer for 15 years and wanted to stay closer to home, hopefully bringing business to the tiny, but growing downtown just eight miles west of Twin Falls on Highway 30.
“If I build it, they will come,” Garner says.
And they have. The location is near the post office and several businesses. News of a chocolate shop is starting to spread, making her a destination location for chocoholics from across the valley.
For Garner, the shop is a place to nurture and care for customers in the way she did for her sons when they were home. She was always the host for the boys and their friends, offering warm meals and treats that they still crave today. Now she’s created a similar haven for friends and strangers alike, served up with an open ear and a kind heart.
Garner takes care of people by adding the little details that some might overlook – that extra dollop of cream in the éclairs, or just a bit more chocolate in the brownie batter. Details that only a true chocolate lover can provide.
Hooked on Chocolates is located at 405 Main Street in Filer and is open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call 208-326-2253.