Chocolate Is Always The Answer


Dancing Bear Northern Chocolate Studio offers small batch, high quality chocolate and baked goods. Photo courtesy of Dancing Bear Chocolate

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, there is one thing that can always bring us together: chocolate.

I realize there are many people who don’t like chocolate, or perhaps are even allergic, but what are the odds that a person would dislike both chocolate AND gelato? Um, zero. I’m pretty sure that person would spontaneously combust due to immense lack of joy. Which is why Dancing Bear Chocolate is the chocolate shop for everybody.

In the mood for some sumptuous flourless chocolate cake – Dancing Bear’s got you covered. Photo courtesy of Dancing Bear Chocolate

Opened in January 2018, Dancing Bear Chocolate was started by Joe Skifter and Steven Howard in North Minneapolis.

Howard, who came to Minneapolis in 1979, has experience working in a variety of different kitchens and restaurants, including 510 Groveland, Pam Sherman’s, and Le Quatre Amis. In 1985, Howard landed a position with the at-the-time startup D’Amico Partners, where he proceeded to work in the kitchens of D’Amico Cucina and Azur as an executive pastry chef. After leaving D’Amico in 1994, Howard jumped into the chocolate business, honing his craft as a cruise ship executive chef with a chocolate company in Nantucket. He continued on this trajectory in 2003, when he moved back to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to open Kokoa Chocolatier, which expanded to three locations. Eventually, Howard moved back to the great state of Minnesota in 2011.

In 2015, Howard was named executive chef of Open Arms, a nonprofit providing meals for people living with life-threatening illnesses, which Howard considers to be one of his greatest honors.

Skifter’s own experience in management for various companies such as Caribou, Dunn Brothers, and currently as the general manager of Open Book, gives him the perfect balance to Howard’s culinary experience. Together, Skifter and Howard’s Dancing Bear Northern Chocolate Studio offers small batch, high quality chocolate and baked goods, as well as their own homemade gelato.

Joe Skifter and Steven Howard opened Dancing Bear Chocolate in January 2018. Photo courtesy of Dancing Bear Chocolate

Located at 4367 Thomas Ave. North, Dancing Bear Chocolate’s Northern Chocolate Studio recently underwent some renovations, which are now proving to be useful during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“During the renovation process, we installed an old-fashioned walk-up service window. We planned to use this only during the hot summer months. Due to COVID-19, this is how we operate our entire business at this time,” Skifter says. “We place a table in front of the window to insure social distancing for the person ordering and for me [Skifter takes the orders].”

Dancing Bear offers plenty of seasonal treats, including their Holiday Chocolate Sphere. Photo courtesy of Dancing Bear Chocolate

Though many businesses that have reopened are limiting payment options like cash or checks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Skifter says Dancing Bear Chocolate is taking as many precautions as they can, but they still allow cash payments to be more inclusive of their clientele.

“We have a touch-free credit card processing system, and we ask all customers to maintain social distancing while waiting in line and that they wear face coverings,” Skifter says. “We also accept cash as we feel by not doing so, this would exclude a number of customers who do not have access to credit/debit cards.”

Dancing Bear Chocolate Northern Chocolate Studio is located in North Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of Dancing Bear Chocolate

If you’re wondering what sets Dancing Bear Chocolate apart from other local chocolatiers, Skifter says the answer is quite simple: “You need to try our products, and then you can answer that for yourself.”

So grab your face mask, head over to Dancing Bear Chocolate, and try their new summer 2020 chocolate collection, some fresh baked goods, or their decadent, refreshing gelato to see for yourself what makes this North Minneapolis chocolate shop more than worth the visit.

For more information about Dancing Bear Chocolate Northern Chocolate Studio, visit or go to

Dancing Bear Chocolate Northern Chocolate Studio
4367 Thomas Ave. N

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