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The Hustle

Name: Olivier Rodriguez and Gregory Pugin (CocoAddiction)

Posted By Margie Manning

CocoAddiction, at 344 Corey Ave. in St. Pete Beach, features artisan chocolates, made with products from local vendors such as Dakin Dairy Farms in Sarasota, and fresh fruits grown locally. They also serve coffee from Made Coffee in Clearwater. Co-owners and chefs Greg Pugin and Olivier Rodriguez grew up in France, and in families where cooking was a big deal. Pugin's father was a chef and he was expected to follow suit. Rodriguez' parents owned restaurants, where he started working when he was 16 years old. They worked together in Miami before opening their shop in St. Pete Beach.

Years in Tampa Bay

Rodriguez moved to St. Petersburg in 2019, while Pugin still lives in Miami.

Hustle (job)

Chefs and co-owners, CocoAddiction

What do you do?  

Make and sell chocolates

Why do you do it?

With chocolate, you can make so many forms, so many colors. You can be artistic, but the principal thing is the flavor. It’s difficult to make a good chocolate with a beautiful design but we try to do that.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

Pugin was a chef at a restaurant in Miami and decided to make an after-dinner tray with lots of little chocolates. The customers said they were good and kept asking for them. Originally, making chocolates was going to be a side project, but so many people asked for the chocolates that they decided to start their own shop.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

It’s a lot of work to make great chocolates. So many people don’t know what’s behind each piece of chocolate. Each piece has four to five coatings of color, then there is the shell and the filling. You put it on display, and then into a box before you eat it and enjoy it. It’s a two-day process for each piece.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

To make sure we make you happy. We need to make sure the product is the highest quality.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Rodriguez: “Be true to yourself and respect the product.”
Pugin: “Work hard and be humble.”

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