Just two blocks from the St. Croix River in downtown Hudson, Wisconsin, Knoke’s Chocolate Shop sits ideally located to draw in passing locals and tourists alike. Since 2011, this family-owned business has called the red brick building on Locust Street home, where its handcrafted confections are made in-house, daily, and with love.
Owner Dave Knoke opened Knoke’s in its original location (also in downtown Hudson) in 2000. It was small—only 600 square feet—but it was a start. With a hard working mentality, Dave put in 12 hour days, 7 days a week, to be able to grow Knoke’s enough to require a bigger location. In 2011, the store moved to its current location, where it’s surrounded by other small retail businesses.
But Dave’s reason for building his company can’t simply be boiled down to just work ethic; he loves serving the people of Hudson. From the very first time he made someone smile with his chocolates, he was hooked. “Instant gratification,” he calls it.
Dave believes in the importance of an owner’s presence in his shop. If he’s able, he will be there. Visit Knoke’s any time of year and you may just find him behind the counter with warm greetings and a big smile. If not around, you can rest assured he is at the warehouse - busy filling the shelves with more product! While you’re there, you may notice how the place sort of feels like a backdrop in a Christmas movie. The walls are lined with jars of colorful candy, while countertops are brimming with delicious-smelling goodies begging to be explored. Bright-eyed, happy children stream in after school with giddy excitement and parents in tow. It’s a great place to be!
In addition to chocolate and candy, the shop offers a fine selection of house-roasted nuts, gourmet popcorn, ice cream, and gift boxes that range from humble to extravagant. For 18 years, Knoke’s has stood as a place for family and friends to enjoy sweet treats together. A second location was opened in 2017 in neighboring St. Paul, Minnesota to better serve customers.
Dave is originally from Lancaster, Wisconsin. He was raised on a cattle farm, an experience to which he credits his work ethic.
While the idea of opening a chocolate shop wasn’t something he would describe as a lifelong dream, Dave recalls noticing the similarities between farming livestock and making chocolate. Both require hard work, patience and a love of the process. There’s also no denying that long days working on a farm will grow you a sweet tooth! Today, Dave is married with three amazing children. He’s an avid college football fan, which is why there are TVs in the chocolate rooms at Knoke’s! Dave also loves college basketball and takes time off from making the region’s best chocolates for some well-deserved R&R during March Madness.