Hummingbird Chocolate Maker celebrates 10 years in business with new experiential chocolate factory

Lanark County’s newest culinary attraction is now open, and it includes a lot of chocolate! Hummingbird Chocolate Maker has officially moved to its new location in Almonte, offering a complete chocolate-centric experience.

Part factory, part experiential centre, the new facility is designed and built in a customer-centric way that fully immerses visitors in a unique culinary experience. This includes an interactive gallery and window wall that draws people into the theatre of chocolate production. Visitors can also shop in the chocolate shop and order gourmet coffee, hot chocolate and artisanal gelato in the factory café.

The creation of the new facility was a considerable undertaking. When the Regional Tourism Relief Fund – Ontario’s Highlands (RTRF) was announced in April 2022, Hummingbird Chocolate Maker owners, Drew and Erica Gilmour, were happy to hear they could apply for funding for projects that started as far back at April 2021.

Hummingbird Chocolate Maker was awarded funding from the RTRF to offset some of the cost related to the creation of the new culinary tourism attraction. The RTRF funding supports tourism entities with contributions of up to $100,000 for up to 50 percent eligible costs for for-profit businesses (and 100 percent eligible costs for not-for-profit organizations), to support product development or enhancement of tourism experiences. The RTRF is supported by a $3.67-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

By receiving funding from the RTRF, the owners of Hummingbird Chocolate Maker have been offered some financial relief for their efforts in this expansion and can start executing new business ideas sooner.

“Almonte has already become a food hub,” said Drew Gilmour. “We want to continue adding to that experience for our visitors by co-promoting other food-related attractions.”

Business Manager, Stephanie Hessel, explained she has had interest from other businesses in the area to offer visitor passes. The idea is that a visitor could purchase a pass at one culinary experience, and it would allow them access to multiple culinary experiences in the area. These businesses have already begun to train staff on what other food makers in the area have to offer.

Since opening, the new factory Hummingbird has seen an increase in visitors coming for the chocolate experience and then visiting other food makers nearby such as Equator Coffee Roaster and Crooked Miles Brewery.

“Since our grand opening, we have really seen an increase in visitation,” said Hessel. “We are currently offering factory tours once on Saturday mornings, and there is enough interest to offer a second tour in the afternoon.”

Adjacent to the beautifully decorated retail space and café, is a long window wall that looks into the factory. This feature draws people into the theatre of chocolate production. Hummingbird tour guides take visitors “from bean to bar,” complete with chocolate sampling and interaction with chocolate makers in the factory via two-way radio.

Visitors can do it all at the Hummingbird Chocolate Factory—shop, eat, drink and experience—and before you leave, don’t forget to get a picture in front of the Instagram wall!