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Artist, chocolatier aim for sweet success

What do you get when you combine the talents of a chocolatier, photographer and businesswoman?

Organic dark chocolate bars sealed in wrappers with images of the beautiful North Olympic Peninsula and increased sales.

In December 2008, Lynn Keenan, owner of Renaissance wellness center, 401 E. Front St., Port Angeles, joined forces with chocolate maker Yvonne Yakota and photographer Pat O'Hara to start producing Klahhane chocolate bars, "chocolates with a Northwest attitude."

Six varieties of the solid, organic dark chocolate bars are available exclusively at Renaissance, located on the waterfront in Port Angeles. The idea formed after Hershey's purchased Dagoba, the type of organic chocolate bar Renaissance previously sold.

"For the consumer, this was terrific," Keenan, said.

"Practically overnight good, organic chocolates were made accessible to anyone within traveling distance of a grocery store."

For her business, the sale wasn't such a good thing. Sales of Dagoba bars at Renaissance decreased dramatically, almost instantly negatively impacting business.

"We wanted to still offer a good, organic bar," Keenan said.

"Organic chocolate has had a slow rise in popularity and has really hit its stride in the last year."

In the first month, the store sold more Klahhane bars than Dagoba bars the entire past year - and Dagoba was once one of the largest retail sales items at Renaissance.

"It's been a great experience putting together two artists - a chocolatier and a photographer - to create something so indigenous to the area," Keenan said.

"That's one of the great parts of being a small business: We can shift quickly with the economy and give people what they want, working with local artists all the while."

Keenan encourages chocolate lovers to stop by the store and try a chocolate bar or two. She's still trying to figure out which flavor is her favorite.

"Much to my surprise, when they first came out I loved the earthy lavender spice (bar)," Keenan said.

"But now, when I think, 'I need to have some chocolate,' I'm on to a lush coconut lemongrass."

Additional flavors include robust espresso lemon, savory hazelnut, zesty orange mint and toasty cocoa nib. A seasonal flavor might be introduced in the future.

Each bar is 65-percent cocoa.

One in every 1,000 chocolate bars contains a coupon for a free massage.

For more information, stop by Renaissance, 401 Front St., Port Angeles, or call 565-1199.



Chocolate

bar a

healthy snack



Chocolate might not be one of the recommended food groups, yet but there are certainly benefits to eating the delicious treat.

Made from plants, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants known to protect the body against aging and damage that leads to heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, balance certain hormones in the body and give a boost of endorphins.

Organic chocolate is made from plants grown without any artificial herbicides or pesticides.

Lynn Keenan, a small-business owner and chocolate lover, swears that organic chocolate tastes "cleaner and fresher."

When trying to decide on a "healthy" chocolate bar, examine the label, Keenan said. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better the candy bar is for you. The lower the cocoa percentage, the more sugar, fat and oil included.

According to About.com, dark chocolate contains nearly eight times the number of antioxidants as found in strawberries. Take that to the supermarket.



Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequimgazette.com.

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