Jenny and Ben Hauser took something of a leap of faith in 2005, when barely a year after the couple met, they were engaged to marry and opened Glarus Chocolatier in Timonium.
Two children, three locations, and eight years of marriage later, the Hausers believe their move from a store in Harbor East to a new location at 2046 York Road in Timonium is the perfect marriage of, well, a perfect marriage and a prime location for their artisanal Swiss chocolate shop.
"It just seemed to all fit," Jenny Hauser said. "It seemed like the natural move to come back, and honestly, around Christmas time … you'd see our Timonium customers were migrating downtown to buy chocolate. We'd see them make the trek all the way downtown to get their chocolate and say, 'We miss you in Timonium.' "
Ben Hauser, 41, and Jenny Hauser, 35, met on an online dating site and immediately connected over the love of chocolate. Ben's father is from Switzerland, and his family runs a catering company in Connecticut, while Jenny grew up with a strong baking background.
They never met at their alma mater, Loyola University Maryland, but once they connected, they almost immediately began planning a chocolate shop — and eventually, their wedding.
The shop opened in February 2005, and after three years there, the couple opened a retail location downtown. But when they were unable to renew their lease downtown, the couple decided a return engagement in Timonium might not be bad for business.
Jenny is excited about the store's neighbors as much as the site, which is accessible off York Road and allows them to advertise right on the side of the building. The store is located next to Smyth Jewelers, and shares a duplex with Yogoya Frozen Yogurt. Though summer is typically the slower season for chocolate shops, Jenny Hauser said the yogurt store's traffic could provide some spillover business at Glarus.
The new location, which opened just before Valentine's Day, also cuts the family's commute in half — it took around 40 minutes to get downtown from their Baldwin home. The couple has a 3-year-old son, Andrew, a 1-year-old daughter, Lucy, and Jenny is expecting their third child in July.
For Ben, who handles most of the in-store production and said he spends 16-hour days in the kitchen during the busy Christmas season, the move provides at least the chance to see his children at night.
"I really never got to see them at night when I was at the old location because we were open later at night," Ben said.
The move forced them to close for six weeks, the first time they closed in eight years. It offered the Hausers a chance to evaluate their business for the first time.
"We really got to see our strengths and weaknesses … so we're slowly but effectively putting all of those things that we thought about into place," Ben said. "It's definitely been good for us to have had that little break so we can really sort of regroup and refocus."
Since they started their family, Jenny stays home with the kids most days and tries to handle the business side of the operation during afternoon naps and in the evenings. Ben grew up in Connecticut making chocolate with his father, whose childhood hometown of Glarus, Switzerland is the store's namesake. He makes most of the product on his own. Jenny said she's at the store at least once a week, and chips in with production during busy seasons.
Currently, they're in the middle of one of the three busiest stretches of the season. Easter is behind Christmas and Valentine's Day as one of the biggest chocolate seasons, and Jenny said they're featuring several special items for the holiday.
She said their solid chocolate Easter bunnies are hand-poured and she highlighted both their organic jelly bean collection and their line of chocolate eggs that include peanut butter, butter cream and orange cream.
Ben is already looking toward next Christmas, though.
"It's easily 14, 16-plus-hours every day," he said. "I never got to see (my children) for that whole period. Now, even if I should have to work those long hours next fall, being so close by, I know my wife will be able to stop by with the kids here and there — that's always nice."