Jimmie’s Chocolates in Dania Beach permanently closes after 74 years; restaurant up for sale

Phillip Valys, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·2 min read

Jimmie’s Chocolates, the iconic chocolatier and old-fashioned Dania Beach cafe that has served up delicious confections since 1947, has permanently closed and its owners have put the business and land up for sale.

In a goodbye message left for patrons on Jimmie’s social-media channels, the 74-year-old chocolate maker at 148 N. Federal Highway, Dania Beach, said it was searching for new ownership to update and run the aging confectionery.

“Since 1947 Jimmie’s Chocolates has been serving the sweet life in South Florida,” the message, posted Feb. 2, begins. “After many years of doing so it’s time to pass on this icon’s culinary traditions to new owners. We are working diligently to find the savvy entrepreneur that will continue Jimmie’s rich 74-year traditions.”

Jimmie’s current longtime owners – Ken Smith, Rodney Harrison and Robert Granado – did not disclose an asking price but property records show the building and land are worth $324,960. The Jimmie’s brand is also for sale, Granado tells the Sun Sentinel.

Granado is quick to avoid blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for killing Jimmie’s Chocolates, but described his partners’ decision to close as “mutual.”

“To be perfectly honest, it’s because of my physical condition we’re in,” says Granado, who closed Jimmie’s in late January. “It’s been an unfortunate tri-fecta. Everyone capable of stepping in and carrying it on can’t do it anymore. It’s not for the weak of back or faint of heart.”

While the shop had been open during the pandemic, Granado said dine-in sales were sluggish. Jimmie’s also closed its online chocolate store in late January. Jimmies specialized in nonpareils, peanut-butter cups, caramel turtles and nut-filled barks, fudge squares and truffles, and chocolate-inspired mousse desserts inside its attached cafe.

Jimmie’s closing calls to mind the ongoing saga of the Mai-Kai Restaurant, another aging landmark on Federal Highway that its owners put up for sale in January.

Originally called Jimmie’s Candies, the chocolatier opened in 1947 by a man named Jimmie Vonglis, who eventually sold it to Naomi Turner, known to her friends as “Old Yummy,” who operated it until the late 1980s. Smith and Harrison purchased Jimmie’s in 1996, and by 2003, their partner Granado decided to transform the building in front of the chocolatier, which had become a glorified storage closet. A rebranded Jimmy’s Chocolates and Café 47 opened in 2005 with a menu of old-world Continental and Floribbean dishes, coffee, wine and chocolate-based desserts. They expanded the patio in 2012.

In 2017, Sun Sentinel readers named Jimmie’s Chocolates the best chocolate shop in South Florida.

This story will be updated. Check back for more information.