Whoever said that change is a good thing has never been to Malley's Chocolates -- and that's their loss.
The Cleveland chocolatier's original location in Lakewood, founded in 1935, still stands largely the same as it did on the day it opened during the height of the Great Depression. Local legend says that founder Albert "Mike" Malley borrowed $500, rented a small store and living quarters at Lewis Dr. and Madison Ave., and moved his family into the back rooms. He then purchased the materials and supplies needed to become a professional chocolatier and ice cream concoctioner. His wife, Jo, saw to it that the bills were paid on time.
Perhaps what's most remarkable is that the sweet treats themselves have not changed in the more than 80 years since Malley created the chocolate recipes, which he prepared by hand using a simple copper pot over an open flame.
"We have not altered one process of any of my grandfather’s recipes," said Dan Malley, vice president of marketing. "There are more modern, efficient ways of making chocolate, but we still make it the way he taught us because we believe it makes a better product. We cook everything over an open fire in a copper pot; he could come back to work in the kitchen today and make the candy using the exact same formula, exact same recipe and exact same technique."
Featuring a fully-stocked storefront and old-fashioned ice cream parlor, the Lakewood location welcomes diners with a bowl of Malley's pretzels and a large menu of delectable ice cream concoctions, many of which feature the company's candy for added flavor and decoration.
And while Willy Wonka still takes the award for the zaniest chocolatier, Malley's -- with its unique color palette and decor -- may just be runner-up in the eccentric category. The Lakewood location sports the company's famous pink and green color scheme, as well as a full wall mural of the tea party scene from "Alice in Wonderland." Wooden cutouts painted to look like tree trunks line the walls, while their leafy branches hang overhead against the ceiling.
The result? Sitting on a stool at the retro soda fountain counter, listening to Oldies music playing in the background, brings ice cream lovers back to another time and place -- one that is worth the short trek from Downtown.
The third-generation, family-owned Malley's Chocolates operates 22 locations in Northeast Ohio, five of which include ice cream parlors. In Cleveland, I scream, you scream, we all scream for Malley's.