The Chocolate Caper in Oregon, Wisconsin is a business built on the dreams of two couples, a generation apart.
The Chocolate Caper has its origins in a dream that spans generations. It began as the dream of Ellen and Claude Marendaz, who founded the Caper in 1983 from their home. After perfecting their praline recipe, Ellen and Claude began selling their unique chocolates at the Madison/Dane County Farmer’s market. As their first years passed, they found their chocolate growing in popularity and The Chocolate Caper beginning to gain a loyal following. As a result, in the mid-eighties they opened their first retail storefront in downtown Oregon. They moved between a few locations in Oregon, and in 2007, they moved to the Caper’s current location at 105 S. Main Street in Oregon.
The store has become a staple of downtown Oregon. In 2013, Ellen and Claude began moving toward retirement and started trying to find like-minded people to continue the traditions of The Chocolate Caper. At the same time, Elizabeth and Daniel Donoghue were just getting started with a dream of their own. As the couple began a new stage of their lives, they began thinking about what they wanted to do, and how they wanted to do it.
Elizabeth’s background as a long-time baker became a focal point, and the couple started test marketing a bakery out of their home, mirroring the humble origins of The Chocolate Caper. Their dream was to open a local, family-owned business that was community focused and had the simple mission of making the special moments in people’s lives just a bit more magical. Over the next several months, they saw demand for their bakery skyrocket. As a result, in the summer of 2014, they began looking for a commercial kitchen to use. They first contacted Ellen and Claude to discuss the possibility of sharing kitchen space, as they knew The Chocolate Caper had cut back to only being open for limited hours for some parts of the year.
From there, the rest is history. Ellen and Claude let them know they were looking for someone to take over The Chocolate Caper. Elizabeth and Dan couldn’t think of a better match than chocolate and baked sweets. They met with Ellen and Claude, and from their first meeting, it was clear the two couples had much in common.
Ellen and Claude began teaching Elizabeth and Dan the secrets behind the Caper that Summer, and they officially took over the business in October of 2014 and reopened November 8, 2014. Ellen and Claude had realized their dream, and helped Elizabeth and Dan’s dream come true when they passed the torch on to them. Today, Elizabeth and Dan run the Caper together, along with their children and wonderful staff of experienced confectioners – or as they fondly refer to themselves, chocolate minions.
“Amazing place. Amazing chocolates. Amazing people.”
Making chocolates for over 35 years
Pieces of praliné made by hand