Working in the City – Chocolate Therapy Café

Get Your Fix in Chickamauga

Downtown Chickamauga is bursting with the simple charm unique to small town America. Cozy boutique shops line streets with ample free parking—there is simply no reason not to take a leisurely stroll. In the midst of all of these charming retail outlets is Chocolate Therapy Café, once the town’s first general store. With its intriguing name, irresistible scents, and adorable storefront, it practically demands visitors walk through its door.


By Julianne Hale  |  Photography by Med Dement


Once inside, customers enjoy a kind smile and welcoming words from owner Sandi Townley and her staff. Townley spent her professional life providing counseling to the students at Chattanooga State, so she knows a little something about therapy. In fact, the opening of Chocolate Therapy Café in 2010 was a pseudo-expansion of her practice. “There is no better therapy than good chocolate and good conversation,” Townley contends.

Using her skillful eye for arranging, Townley has created an atmosphere of warmth and comfort inside the cafe. Traditional seating and a large glass dessert counter await guests at the front of the store. The back of the restaurant features a comfortable seating area of plush sofas around a fireplace, an outdoor patio, and a small “play kitchen” with toys and books for children. “I wanted to create a space where families felt welcome,” explains Townley. “My grandchildren come to the café two or three times a week after school to visit with me and have a treat. I love having them here with me and they love it, too.”

My guest and I took our seats at one of the tables near the front of the store and began our therapy session with a cheese and fruit plate and a bowl of yummy tomato basil soup. Next, we tried the create-your-own salad plate. One of the best features of Sandi’s menu is that you can customize the items to your taste. For example, the salad plate offers customers their choice of an array of ingredients, several options of homemade dressing, and a choice between crackers, a croissant, or bread. We tried four different dressings from Townley’s collection, and I whole-heartedly recommend them all.

Next we tried the sampler plate which included one scoop of homemade pimento cheese (some of the best I’ve tasted), one scoop of chicken salad, a small green salad, fruit, and a croissant. Because everyone has a different opinion about what makes a good chicken salad, Townley gives customers the ability to customize their toppings. I went for pecans, craisins, and blue cheese. Yum!

Determined to dive deep into emotional healing, we began our final and most intense therapy session with the “Couples Therapy” dessert platter, complete with two almond thumbprint cookies, a coffee cupcake, some chocolate cobbler (this one won the Creative Discovery Museum cobbler-tasting contest), a Mississippi mud pie brownie, and some samples of the peanut butter and chocolate fudge. We also sampled the Southern pecan praline brownie, the chocolate chip pecan pie and several other decadent treats.

We left the café with full bellies, satisfied palates and renewed spirits. I tossed my bottle of anxiety meds out the window on the way home. Because, after all, who needs Xanax when you have chocolate cobbler?!

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