At first, Shannon Kokot had bistro tables and chairs at her M.A.M.A.S. Creative Sweets, thinking that customers might sit there to enjoy their sweet treat and a cup of her 50-cent coffee.
That didn’t happen.
Oh, the customers came, they just didn’t hang around. Instead, they savored their decadent treats inside their vehicles behind tinted windows where no one could see them.
Kokot figured out that her chocolate and fruit pie shop is like an adult bookstore. No one wants to be seen there. For a woman who lives life with faith and gusto, that’s just wrong.
“Chocolate in moderation is fine,” Kokot insists. “Drinking in moderation is fine. Eating cheeseburgers in moderation is fine. Stop beating yourself up. You have to have these little pleasures.”
Enjoying life, and the people who cross her path, is what this Granbury chocolatier is all about. Her shop on South Morgan Street (300 S. Morgan St. Suite 302, not far from C&J Butcher Shop) includes inspiring messages and photo collages of people she has known, but the first thing a customer’s eye might fall upon are the chocolates and pies under glass in her display cases.
She makes a variety of chocolate balls, including balls filled with a creamy peanut butter that she says never becomes dry. There are chocolate-covered cookies and her trademark “Redneck Eclaires,” chocolate-covered Twinkies with a candy bar on top.
Kokot’s pies, made with fresh fruit, are colorful works of art and are so light that one can easily eat the equivalent of two standard portions without feeling full. (Kokot notes that the only thing baked in her shop is pie crust. So, if a baked pie, such as pumpkin or pecan, is what you’re looking for, you won’t find it at M.A.M.A.S.)
“These one-of-a-kind pies do not exist anywhere in the country,” she said. “The only thing baked is the crust. It’s all fresh fruit and a trade-secret filling. I stopped counting at 150 different combinations of pies.”
Depending on the fruit combinations, Kokot’s pies sell for $23-$28.
M.A.M.A.S. stands for Making A Moment Always Special, and that’s what Kokot strives to do when customers come to her for treats for a special event or a special person. Every order is customized after Kokot hears the customer’s “story.”
Kokot has her own story of how she landed in Granbury and how she came to be a chocolatier.
Kokot’s family moved to Montana when she was in the fifth grade and her husband Keith was born there. They lived for years in that state but moved to Virginia, where her mother was from, in 2010, knowing that it would not be their “forever place.”
In May 2013, when the couple’s son Cameron was eight and the only one of their four children left at home, Kokot noticed that she was seeing a lot of ads for chocolate-dipped strawberries and similar treats. It was, after all, the month of Mother’s Day.
Kokot decided to try to make her own chocolate-dipped strawberries. She sold them on Facebook, $20 for a dozen. Rather than tossing strawberries that didn’t make the “dippable” cut, she made pies.
Kokot began experimenting with pie filling.
“I created this beautiful, shiny pie that when you cut it, it stays in the perfect pie shape,” she said. “It has a completely different texture. It’s not a gelatin texture.”
The same month that Kokot began discovering her hidden culinary talents, Keith, who had retired from a 20-year military career in 2007, lost his job at a nuclear facility. One day when they were considering their next move, Keith said to his wife, “You have all this talent. You should open a business.” Kokot’s response was, “Have you lost your mind?”
Nevertheless, fate just seemed to keep nudging Kokot in the direction of opening her own business. She heard of office space that was for rent She asked if she could rent a portion of that space and the owner agreed. That was June 4, 2013.
Kokot opened her first M.A.M.A.S. Creative Sweets on July 6 with seven items on the menu that included chocolate-dipped strawberries, cherries, pretzels and marshmallows and pies, both whole ones and “baby” ones intended as single servings.
Despite Kokot having no business loan and “no clue,” M.A.M.A.S. took off. Customers began calling Kokot and asking her to put together a tray. In 2015, she said, she was named the number one chocolatier for all of eastern Virginia. On holidays, things got really crazy at the sweetshop.
“I would always almost cry before a holiday because I wasn’t going to sleep for the next 10 days,” Kokot said.
When Cameron was in eighth grade, Kokot began to think about how fast he was growing up and that, while his older siblings had memories of the years during Keith’s military career when they lived in Italy, Cameron’s most exciting memory thus far was a trip to Great Wolf Lodge.
Kokot suggested to her husband that they rent out their house, buy a fifth wheel, and hit the road with Cameron. In February 2019, they struck out, driving through 19 states in nine months. They visited family, friends they hadn’t seen since high school, and friends they knew from the military.
It was great. For a while.
THE SWEET LIFE
Eventually, Kokot grew tired of the nomad lifestyle and wanted to settle down again, but not in Virginia. She and Keith like lake communities and while researching a new place to put down roots, Keith discovered Granbury. They drove here, checked out the high school, and had lunch on the square.
“We literally spent four hours in this town and said, this is it,” said Kokot. She stated that Texas has “a Montana atmosphere without the snow.”
The couple put the fifth wheel up for sale and made plans to rent a house temporarily until they could decide on a permanent home. But, as the Kokot luck tends to go, Kokot said, COVID-19 hit. The Kokots rode out the pandemic along with the rest of the community.
For a time, Keith worked in auto repair. But after a while the couple began talking about opening a new M.A.M.A.S.
Kokot wanted her chocolate shop to be on the square, but for various reasons that didn’t work out. However, the rental space that was available on South Morgan was very close to the family’s rent house.
Before long, M.A.M.A.S. was back in business, open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Keith helps out, and Kokot has been actively involved with Visit Granbury and the local tourism industry. With their sweetshop containing thousands of chocolate molds, the Kokots are prepared to handle any event or customized order.
Cameron, in elementary school when the M.A.M.A.S. adventure began, is now a senior in the community where his parents found their sweet spot.
“The markets, the wine festivals, all of the different things that go on remind me of Italy because Italy always had different markets and festivals and we were never bored,” Kokot said.
Kokot, whose mother died of cancer one day shy of her 52nd birthday, lives by the philosophy that life is short and it is to be lived to the fullest. She encourages people to “trust the big guy” and not give up when bad things happen or let fear keep them from pursuing dreams.
“I practice what I preach,” she said. “Life is a blessing every day. And life is going to have challenges and struggles. Go and do things before it’s too late.”