Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Li-Lac Chocolates: Making The Village Sweeter For 90 Years

By: Anne M. Raso

I was lucky enough to attend the 90th anniversary party for Li-Lac Chocolates, a mainstay in a part of town that is changing rapidly. The first 100 people in the door this past Sunday got to buy four items at 1923 prices--meaning that a classic box of mixed chocolates were only $3.67! Other delights, including fudge and toffee crunch (the store's top selling item) were 23 cents each. Visitors reminisced outside on line--which started more than an hour before start time. Two-hundred people were lined up down Eighth Avenue by the time the doors opened at 1 PM.
Line outside of Li-Lac
Store employees walked up and down the line serving samples of chocolate covered marzipan, fudge, butter crunch, assorted dark chocolate truffles (including champagne specialty truffles) while people reminisced about the neighborhood. Many people on line were long-term residents who had been in the West Village for over 50 years, some of which I spoke to about their rent-controlled apartments (I was very jealous, LOL)! There were R&B buskers outside to entertain the crowd, and unlimited champagne was served to guests directly after they checked out with their bags of chocolate goodness!
Champagne Served at Li-Lac
I spoke to owner Anthony Cirone before I got in line on Sunday. He told me the history of the store, which was on Bleecker Street until eight years ago. He told me, "I bought the store two years ago. I was looking to change businesses and I always loved this store. I was a regular customer for over 20 years. The first owner (George Demetrious) had it for 50 years, and after that it changed hands a few times, always to old employees or customers."
Anthony Cirone, Owner of Li-Lac Chocolates
Cirone admits that he always loved the nostalgic feel of Li-Lac and was thrilled not only to get all the old recipes for treats when he bought the business but he "got all the old tin candy molds dating back as far as 1900." There is something very special about these molds. They are very detail intensive and the store window and interior displays featuring numerous animal-shaped molds are stunning. There are whimsical molds for special occasions--for weddings, there are spectacular champagne bottle shaped chocolate molds, not to mention retro wedding bells. I can personally gaze endlessly at the glass shelves featuring make chocolates shaped like high heels, horses, elephants, trucks, cars, chess pieces, footprints, dolphins, alligators, keys, horseshoes and more thanks to their huge mold collection.
Thanksgiving treats on display
For those looking for a deal, well, the "roll the prices back to 1923" promotion is over, but there is still plenty of Halloween candy left at half price, many of which are made with stunning vintage pumpkin and witch candy molds. The counter staff is happy to let people buy individual pieces so that they can sample the over 200 varieties of candies that Li-Lac sells. Did I fail to say that it is worth it to go into the store just to experience the wafting scent of freshly made chocolate and talk about candy with the super-friendly staff?

We here at financefoodie.com wish Li-Lac Chocolates another great 90 years. They also have storefront locations in the Grand Central Market and in a storefront of their Brooklyn Factory. For more info on this Manhattan sweet lovers’ mainstay, go to www.li-lacchcolates.com.

Li-Lac Chocolates
40 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10014
Cuisine: Dessert

Photos By Anne Raso

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