Calvert, Texas: Cocoamoda Chocolate and Other Main-Street Businesses
Day-Tripping From Houston
Visiting Calvert, Texas, is a pleasure. One could spend hours or days exploring this captivating place. Centrally located on State Highway 6, Calvert provides almost equal access to the cities of Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio if one is willing to spend a few hours on the road driving there.
My friend Lisa had read about the historic town—in particular the business of Cocoamoda, which makes premium truffles of many flavors and also sports an upscale restaurant in that historical small Texas town.
She wanted to explore this and invited me to accompany her. I happily complied, and the two of us went into the countryside for a day that exceeded both of our expectations.
Arriving in the town of Calvert around 12:30 PM and not sure how long the Cocoamoda Restaurant might be open, we decided that we better head there first as we intended to have our mid-day repast there. We found out that once opened it stays open until closing time.
The interior decor is lovely and the people very accommodating and friendly. We were well satisfied with having chosen that as our lunch spot and (perhaps selfishly) wished that it was in Houston so that it could be enjoyed more often by us.
As we were dining, there was a regular procession of people from all parts of the State coming in and heading straight to the truffle counter to order some of those delicacies to take with them.
A sample of one truffle is offered free of charge. The truffles can be ordered in amounts from 4 to 12 or even more. They are beautifully packaged to go into a ribbon wrapped gift box and then placed into a beautiful chocolate colored bag outfitted with tissue paper.
Lisa and I both ordered a box of 4 truffles of assorted varieties to take home with us, and the generous offer was made to keep them in the restaurant until we were ready to leave town to preserve them in a cooler environment. We happily complied and walked across the street to see where these delectable truffles are made.
Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the owner of Cocoamoda, it was a slow day in the factory. The reason was that the chocolate enrober machine had broken down and they were awaiting the repair crew from Chicago to come down and enable its functionality.
Under normal circumstances, visitors can view the production of these tasty truffles through some large windows in the foyer of the building. Because of this slow interlude we were fortunate in that we got to meet with and talk to the owner of Cocoamoda, Kenneth Wilkinson for awhile.
He was most engaging and is a bon vivant fellow who is a fellow Houstonian who travels each day back and forth to this business and new enterprise in Calvert.
As a trained chef Kenneth tastes and makes recommendations to his employed Cocoamoda chef regarding the menu specialties.
We got to see this in action. While Kenneth was showing us his "kitchen" of the chocolate factory, the chef brought a dish that would become the day's special offering in his bistro restaurant. Mr. Wilkinson made several recommendations to improve the presentation of the meal while approving of the overall flavor components.
Personally doing much of the renovations of the two buildings he purchased to become his chocolate factory, we learned a bit of fascinating history from Mr. Wilkinson.
I took a picture of a now bricked in doorway that was at one time a conduit between what was a hardware store and a brothel next door. Mr. Wilkinson said that obviously this camouflaged the men's real intent and probably enhanced both businesses back then.
Much time and personal effort were put into making the two purchased storefronts into his Cocoamoda chocolate factory. One note of interest:
The crumbling mortar between the old bricks of the vintage buildings was replaced by Kenneth Wilkinson infusing new mortar with the aid of many pastry bags! How is that for using his chef's skills in a new and innovative way!
Anyone remembering the I Love Lucy shows where Lucy and Ethel were working on an assembly line with chocolates will find this interesting. A similar machine to the one in the Cocoamoda chocolate factory was being utilized but was speeded up beyond normal timing for the comedy effect. Only one "take" was done, and the machine broke down. So that bit of hilarity was contrived and never would have been transpiring in that oh-so-rapid of a pace.
Normally it takes about 16 minutes (from what we were told) for a chocolate truffle to traverse this machinery from one end to the other being coated and chilled at the appropriate moments upon the journey to becoming the delicious truffle treats that people get to enjoy.
Those old brick buildings in Calvert have found a great new purpose in housing this new enterprise of Cocoamoda. Look for expansions into other cities of Texas and possibly beyond in the future.
Since originally writing this, the Cocoamoda Restaurant was starting to fail financially. Robert Irvine and his crew from the televised show Restaurant Impossible came to their aid and helped institute some necessary changes.
Thus the decor pictured here is now different as are some of the menu choices. Wishing them much success in the days and years ahead!
Where Highway 6 and Farm Roads 1644 and 979 meet, Calvert, Texas can be located on a map.
In 1850 a plantation was established by Robert Calvert which is just west of the present town that bears his name. The railroad arrived in 1868-69 and put Calvert on the map as having "the largest cotton gin in the world."
When the abomination of slavery ended and also due to some horrific fires, this town despite the grandeur of mansions almost became a ghost town. The "bones" of the once magnificent structures persisted and the preserved historic nature of the place attracted new entrepreneurs to this centrally located place in Texas to resurrect new businesses and a lifestyle to which many people would aspire.
Lisa and I explored some of the storefronts of the one street "downtown" area of Calvert located on Highway 6.
Some interesting businesses have insinuated themselves into the fabric of this now great destination point for visitors from far and wide.
Zamykal Kolaches was a pleasant surprise! We never expected to see such furnishings in a kolache place! People who frequent tea rooms would enjoy Zamykal Kolaches for the decor alone.
We met the owner, and she said that these 29 kolache recipes plus the four Klobasnikies (meat based ones) originated from her grandmother.
Samples were given, and Lisa and I purchased some to take home for our husbands. I must admit...these were some of the lightest and best-flavored kolaches that I have ever tasted!
They have expanded their list since the website was created adding more flavors.
Store hours are from 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM Thursdays - Sunday. They ship anywhere in the USA, and at one dollar apiece these are indeed an affordable treat.
Common Scents: Candy's Candles
Another pleasant discovery!
While the exterior sidewalk outside of this storefront was decorated with an old wagon wheel, birdhouse, an old toolbox, a washtub made into a water fountain, plants and other interesting and eye-catching assemblages, we almost skipped going into that store thinking that candles would be the primary items sold. What a mistake that would have been!
Candy Shores, the owner of this place of business in Calvert, came from San Diego by way of Fort Worth and ended up in this historic setting to create this unique environment which is not only a shop but also her home.
The warm environment heavily accented towards the West includes a cowboy boot made into a lamp, a faux painted cowhide on the concrete floor, a large wagon wheel, bleached white animal skull (made me think of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe), comfortable-looking Western-styled furniture among other things.
Also, there is much beautiful turquoise and other natural stones acquired in New Mexico, Utah, and different western locales. Candy creates unique pieces of jewelry utilizing these various stones and does excellent artistry from what we saw.
Lisa ended up purchasing a gorgeous set of dangle earrings which were set in sterling silver. She also took several pictures of other pieces that she truly admired and wanted to give more thought to possibly purchasing.
Both Lisa and I thought that not only was the quality good, but the pricing of Candy Shore's artisan jewelry creations is very moderately priced. Were one to find similar objects in Santa Fe, New Mexico (for example) the prices would probably be tripled.
Framed artwork on the walls which is for sale comes from the efforts of Candy's mother.
Beyond a gate stood an amiable-looking dog greeting Lisa and myself with a wagging tail and friendly countenance. A smaller dog was comfortably seated on a sofa and a massive dog of which we only saw a portion was asleep on a large doggie bed in the back part of the store which is home to Candy and her "family."
It is no wonder that this store has such a homey feel to it. It is a home as well as a workplace. Anyone entering is treated like a guest who has been invited into Candy's home.
Do not skip visiting Common Scents if you are passing through Calvert, Texas. And.......oh yes!.......there are also candles for sale!
Perhaps next time if we can pull ourselves away from the jewelry counter long enough, we will actually be tempted to look at and smell her reputedly long-lasting and fragrant candles.
Common Scents / Candy's Candles in Calvert, TexasClick thumbnail to view full-size
Big Cedar Furniture
Immediately upon walking into this store, I thought of my Dad. When he built homes, he generally always included a cedar closet in a hallway.
Cedar protects clothing from moth damage, and there is nothing quite like the clean scent of cedar.
Custom cedar furniture of all types from bedsteads to chairs and tables to lamps, coat-racks and more can be found inside this charming place of business.
Cowhides and horns, as well as Western artwork, also provide tempting choices of things with which it would be fun to decorate a country-style or western-styled home.
Beautifully crafted crosses adorned one wall made out of a variety of ingredients besides the ever-present cedar.
Outside on the sidewalk in front of this historic nineteenth-century store were some of the creatively designed pieces of the cedar furniture under a canopy with a United States and the Texas flag both flapping in the wind and drawing attention to Big Cedar Furniture.
David and Lorie Dickson are the owners and would be happy to see you visiting their store filled to the brim with Western Decor. If you haven't smelled cedar in a while come inside and enjoy the aroma while you browse through their distinctive furnishings.
Antiques, decor, gifts and more can be found in an old historic movie theater that was originally named after the wife of the owner. Eloise was her name, and she sold tickets while her husband ran the movie projector and did other sundry jobs.
It was a one-screen theater with a balcony and a 475 seating capacity. Sadly a fire destroyed much of it in the late 1940s, but the inside of the building was subsequently rebuilt.
The present owner, Harold Maris comes from Baytown, Texas and the balcony is currently under construction to make it into an apartment for him above the rest of the refurbished storefront which beautifully displays the antiques and collectibles of all types.
Mr. Maris has personally done much of the painting inside of the old theater including the high ceiling of the movie theater now sporting the color black. While it may not exactly be the Sistine Chapel it must have been challenging to be up that high wielding a paintbrush and roller.
Work on the lighting and air conditioning is being done, and the snack area inside what was the lobby of the Eloia Theater will soon be offering ice cream and other goodies.
Antiques and collectibles can be found in many locales, but the setting of this historic theater makes shopping for them here an extra special treat.
The Eloia is located at 504 South Main Street, Calvert, Texas 77837.
My apologies to the other businesses that were not featured here. There is a pottery shop, art gallery, other antique places, restaurants, clothing stores and more which may be featured on another visit.
Our time was short, and Lisa and I did want to see some of the historic mansions, bed and breakfast establishments, cemetery and more which will be featured in another post regarding Calvert, Texas. See the link at the bottom of this page to view that.
Calvert, Texas is a captivating place of history offering much in the way of pleasure whether one is dining, shopping, exploring or spending even more time in this charming spot by staying in one of the old Victorian Bed and Breakfast homes. When considering Texas sites to visit, you might wish to place Calvert on that list!
Does seeing this make you want to visit Calvert, Texas?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Peggy Woods