Sweet Treats


By name alone, Grand Island’s The Chocolate Bar evokes thoughts of delicious cocoa concoctions and other delectable sweet treats. And while the establishment offers those as well as many other dessert items, it’s much more. 

“The Chocolate Bar name is a mixture of the chocolate that the original owner loved about it and the truffles and cakes we sell; the bar is the mixture of a coffee bar and alcohol bar,” said Angie Dowd, who bought the restaurant in 2023. “The drinks, desserts, and food are all special and all made in-house. We get our coffee shipped in from Intelligenstia out of Chicago, which has one of the top beans in the nation. We have a bar mixologist who creates some of the best drinks for all four seasons as well as our signature items.”

Originally a concept of Sharena Anson, who loved baking, the process of making chocolate, bar mixology, and creative coffee drinks, The Chocolate Bar came to life in downtown Grand Island in 2011. Anson and her husband renovated the old 1880s building and brought it to life with an urban feel. They added a full bar for day and night, breakfast and lunch.   

When Dowd purchased the business last year, she infused a mixture of the original menu from Anson for breakfast and lunch and mixed in Dreisbach’s Foods– Dowd’s business that closed in 2022—for her own creations. “I lived in Los Angeles for nine years where I did gourmet cheese and wine before moving back (to Nebraska),” Dowd said. “I lived with two chefs, and we were always creating. Some of the best items I used to make are what we serve at The Chocolate Bar, including the Dreisbach’s au gratins, cole slaw, salad dressings, prime rib, and ribs. These are old recipes brought to life again in an urban downtown setting in Grand Island.”

Among its many offerings, The Chocolate Bar is known for its rainbow almond butter cake, old fashioned chocolate cake, and numerous specialty cakes. Dowd said people come from all over for these delicacies, and they are all made in-house from cake batter to frostings. 

The Chocolate Bar is also known for its soups and sandwiches, gluten-free options, the aforementioned Dreisbach’s au gratin potatoes, specialty cocktails, and, of course, coffee. Dowd said her espresso shots are ground per cup, temped, and poured within the specific range so customers can see the layers of espresso bound with the ingredients based on what they want. 

In addition to the restaurant and bar, previous owners developed the other half of the building into space that accommodates an additional 100 people for various events and gatherings. It’s one of the main reasons Dowd purchased the business and sees tremendous opportunity moving forward in continuing to revitalize the downtown area. 

“Restaurant is in my blood, and this building was so beautiful I couldn’t stand to see it go into anyone else’s hands,” she said. “I decided I would add some of the Dreisbach’s recipes into the night menu and open up for a full dinner menu, drinks, desserts, and events morning, noon and night.”

Every third Thursday of the month, The Chocolate Bar promotes “Eat Cake Donate” to donate 10 percent of the day’s receipts to a local charity or event that may need help. “The Chocolate Bar will always be improving,” Dowd added. “We are only beginning and will continue to grow our catering aspect, pick up food, and ever-changing food and drinks with the season. We love fresh food season and creating menu items from those foods—apples, peaches, strawberries.

“No matter what season it is, you will always find our staples that everyone has grown to love. We will always carry our specialty cakes, and you will always be able to get a three cheese grilled cheese and dip it in our red pepper soup.”

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