Many families spend time together during the holiday season, busy in the kitchen baking love and kindness into their sweet confections. Many shops around town aim to deliver similar heartwarming, tasty treats, but Garden Gate gives its family-made creations a special touch that makes you wish they weren’t just a seasonal experience.
Founded in 1942 as an ice cream parlor by current manager Joshua Plumb’s grandfather, Garden Gate switched over to chocolate-covered toffee and chocolate-dipped treats when the rise of chain ice cream retailers put them out of business. Now, the family-run affair has Grandma still cheerfully hand-dipping the sweet delights every day, working alongside her two daughters while Plumb himself doubles as a cook.
Garden Gate is even more unique in that it has never advertised, doesn’t have a website and—contrary to any accepted business model—the little shop is open just two months out of the year, from Nov. 1 through Christmas. Nestled in the heart of the intimate 9th & 9th district, it has remained a beloved secret to those in the know.
As clandestine as the operation might be, the toffee is widely considered to be the best around, made fresh with sugar, butter, chocolate and almonds—and no preservatives to muddy the recipe. The other sweets, like hand-dipped chocolate- covered cinnamon bears and cookies, are equally delicious—and don’t even get started putting away the double-dipped marshmallows unless you want to become hopelessly addicted.
But the thing is, the chocolate almost tastes as though your own familial love was cooked right in, complete with the warm nostalgia for the holidays it inspires. Just be sure to hurry, because when 2012’s final two months are up, the phone is literally shut off, and the flow of sweet goods once again comes to an unfortunate halt—at least till next year.
928 E. 900 South