Li-Lac, Manhattan's Oldest Chocolate Factory, Takes A Vintage Approach To Sweets

There are many iconic candy stores and chocolatiers in New York City, but Li-Lac Chocolates stands out from the bunch because, since its doors first opened in 1923, it has remained the oldest continually running artisanal chocolate company in Manhattan. It's also unique because of its handmade chocolates made with original recipes developed by George Demetrious, a Greek-born immigrant who perfected his chocolate making skills in Paris, France. Later, he moved to NYC where he created the recipes for chocolate candies such as almond bark, hazelnut truffle squares, and fudge at the original Greenwich Village shop on Christopher Street.

Demetrious and his employees made the chocolates by hand, and even when the advancement of technology made it easier to mass produce candy, Li-Lac stayed true to its artisanal roots of making small-batch chocolates. Even though the company changed hands a few times since Demetrious died in 1972, today it is owned by three New Yorkers who uphold the vintage approach to chocolate making even with multiple locations. Some of the tools like the marble tables and scales used by the chocolatiers are from the 1920s.

Anthony Cirone, one of the current owners, has said the team would never alter their approach to making chocolates, regardless of the company's expansion. Li-Lac still uses some of its original recipes over 100 years later (it celebrated its centennial anniversary in October 2023), which are kept by Anwar Khoder, one of the co-owners and its master chocolatier.

Li-Lac's vintage-made candies

At a glance, Li-lac's handmade chocolates look as exquisite as we assume they taste, especially because of the brand's handmade approach and vintage molds. The shop slings some of its original products like the much-loved almond bark, which contains freshly-roasted almonds covered in milk, dark, white, or sugar-free chocolate. You can order a 1-pound box for $42 for delivery if you don't live near New York City.

Today, the company makes dozens of handmade chocolate candies like caramel squares, raspberry creams, chocolate-covered lemon and orange peels, peanut butter cups (yum!), and peanut butter and jelly bars in an ode to the classic sandwich. Li-Lac also offers candies for special occasions like a 17-inch tall chocolate turkey that costs $295 during the Thanksgiving holiday, plus gift boxes for other special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and weddings. It also has sugar- and dairy-free chocolates.

If you want to visit Li-Lac in NYC, it has shops in the West Village on Greenwich Avenue and Bleecker Street plus stores in Grand Central Market, Chelsea Market, and Hudson Yards. There is also a factory in Industry City, Brooklyn where you can get a firsthand look at the artisanal chocolate-making process through windows, try samples, and shop.