It was a blustery cold day in Phoenixville as I knocked on the glass door. Gail’s kind smiling face welcomed me into the shop. Warmth and the undeniable smell of chocolate immediately enveloped me. I don’t think anyone could help but smile walking into a shop that smelled and looked so delicious! I had gone before business hours to have time to talk uninterrupted. I thought I was going to learn about running a chocolate store, but learned more about the person behind the store than I ever thought possible.
Gail Warner is a New Jersey native that started college in New England and then transferred to Eastern College as a social work major. When her father passed away at the age of 48, 18 year old Gail left school after three years. During her brief absence she toyed with the idea of opening a “Bridge Street Chocolates” in Lambertville, NJ but the inexperienced Gail realized her dream was unrealistic. She returned to school, but found herself at Eastern University. There she was a business major and was part of a traveling music ministry called Malachi. After graduating she became a successful business woman for the next 20 years of her life. At 47 ½ she looked in the mirror and asked the question “If I died in 6 months at the same age as my father would I be happy with my life?” “The answer was so easy and clear,” she told me, “no.” It was here that the idea of opening Bridge Street Chocolates came back to the surface.
With 20 years of business experience under her belt, Gail left her great job in the business world to open her own chocolate shop. “This shop has tested my faith in many different areas but God has always been faithful.” She took courses in chocolate making, grabbed her dream and ran with it. When looking for a location a friend mentioned Bridge Street in Phoenixville. After some searching, she found the perfect location at 158 Bridge Street in down town Phoenixville. Warner decided to do chocolate over rather than cupcakes or cookies for a number of reasons. Chocolate doesn’t require big ovens or mixers which means it can be done in a smaller space. Chocolate- good, well made, luxurious chocolate stores are few and far between. The last reason she chose chocolate- who doesn’t LOVE chocolate!? “Chocolate makes people happy. It’s a little luxury that can brighten a day. It’s good.” On December 15, 2010 Gail Warner finally opened the doors to her lifelong dream.
Since then the chocolate store has become a favorite for the town as well as students on campus. Chocolate covered pretzels and bacon are always a favorite along with sea salt caramels. However her best sellers are the decadent truffles. Crème Brule, champagne, coconut, tiramisu, hazelnut, coffee and sea salt caramel are just a few of the wonderful flavors she keeps on hand. During the summer months her fruity artisan truffles head towards the top of her best sellers list. Gail’s personal favorites? “It depends on the day. Some days I want a pretzel, some days it’s the coconut truffle, or caramel pecan. Sometimes just a simple chocolate square hits the spot and I think ‘Wow, this is good.’”
Gail Warner came into the Phoenixville community three years ago and has taken our local chocolate world by storm. She has done wonderful things for students on campus like discounts during finals week and even giving out a free piece or two on Community Cleanup Day for the crews around down town. Though she loves working with chocolate she loves working with people more. “One day a woman will come in celebrating that she just found out she was pregnant. Months later she’ll come in with a stroller, and a bit later she will come in with a little one toddling after her. Chocolate is for anyone any day. Some people come in after a stressful day and I’m the one they talk to. Some come in to celebrate, others just because. It is my job to make them feel welcome; to feel cared for and worth my time and energy.” Gail Warner sells mouthwatering chocolate, has some of the best customer service around and has a phenomenal testimony of faith. By combining these ingredients she has truly made Bridge Street Chocolates her ministry.