Expert chocolatier Dennis Graves ran Mocha on Trinity Church Square with his wife Elizabeth, and the couple had recently expanded their business by opening a chocolate production site in nearby Aske.
Mr Graves, whose cause of death has not been given, was active in Richmond life and helped to organise the town's Christmas market.
A statement on the shop's Facebook page read: "It is with great sadness that we advise of the death of Dennis yesterday. Loved by everyone, he was the cornerstone of our little business. His family and his Mocha family are devasted, so please bear with us while we come to terms with our grief."
Customers left comments in tribute, with mother Hannah Richmond saying her children called him 'a real life Willy Wonka'.
Heather Young said: "What a shock! Such a lovely, talented man, we spoke to him many times when we came up to Mocha. You must be absolutely devastated. Praying for strength for you all in the coming days."
Joy Sykes added: "I’m so sorry to hear this, when I lived locally I loved coming in for a treat. He was a great chocolatier. My prayers are with you all."
Nicky Milton commented: "I’m so very sorry to hear this. I can hardly believe it. He will be missed by the whole town, everyone that knew Dennis knew what an amazing person he was. Always so happy, positive and always so passionate about Richmond and what he could do to make a difference. Sending so much love to his family and friends at this extremely sad time."
Alex Franks said: "Just devastating news. Our hearts go out to Elizabeth, the family and all at Mocha. A truly lovely man, passionate about all he did and what a loss for all of Richmond."