Once, I worked at an Intellectual Property Law Firm in downtown Manhattan. In the afternoons, my dear friend Lisa and I would go to the café next door; we ordered one piece of dark chocolate and tea; we were back at our desk, minutes later with our chocolate treat.
Today, whenever I am dashing through Grand Central Terminal, I find myself stopping by Li-Lac Chocolates for a small piece of Dark Almond Bark. Li-Lac Chocolates has three locations: Grand Central Terminal (Market Place); West Village: 40 8th Avenue (at Jane Street); and the Brooklyn Factory Showroom: 213 50th Street. Several weeks ago, I entered Grand Central Terminal to meet my friend Heme at Posman Books; however, I made a mini detour because of an unexpected surprise. Ambar Fernandez, who is a Sales Associate for Li-Lac Chocolates, was giving away samples of chocolates.
“Hi,” she said.
“Hi, it’s funny I stopped by Li-Lac weeks ago, and I did not see you.” I said.
“I had a baby, I have been on maternity leave,” her glowing smile said.
“Congratulations, Ambar, that’s great news,” I said while eating chocolates.
“Thanks, my boss is working with me…let me introduce you,” Ambar said. “Chris, this is Wanda, she is one of our customers.”
“Hello,” he said.
“Wanda is a writer, a blogger,” Ambar said.
“Yes, hi, I write about food, mostly, and I admit I love dark chocolate.” I said.
“Great, why don’t you visit our factory in Brooklyn, we will be happy to show you around?” Chris asked.
“Really,” I replied. “I will.”
The following Wednesday afternoon, I arrived at the Li-Lac Brooklyn Factory (213 50th Street); I was greeted by Christopher Taylor.
“Hi Wanda,” a gleeful Mr. Taylor said.
“Hi Chris,” I replied glaring at the abundance of a “chocolate heaven.”
“Let me introduce you to Anwar Khoder, he is our Food Expert, Li-Lac’s Master Chocolatier,” Chris said.
“Hi Wanda, welcome to our chocolate factory,” said Anwar.
“Nice to meet you Anwar,” I said.
“I will be showing you around,” he said.
“What’s your favorite chocolate?” Chris asked.
“I love the Dark Almond Bark,” I said.
“That’s a favorite among many of our customers,” he said. “Have you ever tried the White Almond Bark?” He picked up a sample and handed it to me.
A moment passed, “this is delicious,” I echoed.
“Thanks,” Chris said, “We like to surprise people with something they may not think to try.”
“What’s your secret?” I asked.
“Our candy is made fresh daily by hand, everything is fresh. We make over 100 products here at the factory.” Chris said. “Chocolate is a business of making people happy.”
“It’s inspiring watching everyone make chocolate candy, seeing their care, their expertise at work,” I said.
“We have employees who have been with us for decades, I have been here for twenty-three years,” said Anwar.
“I see you are ready for Halloween, the baskets are beautiful,” I said.
“Thanks, we have to give the credit to Helda, Fatima and Camila they decorate our gifts boxes, packages with such style and beauty,” said Chris.
“What are some of the products I see here?” I asked as Chris handed me a piece chocolate.
“That’s our French Mint Bar,” in your hand, he said, “some of our other products are Dark and Milk Chocolate Nonpareils, Coconut Clusters, Dark Pretzels, Chocolate Nut Fudge, Truffles, and we make every kind of specialty items, such as Chocolate Logos, Private Labels, Holiday Items and New York City Icons.
“Like this,” Anwar said and pointed to a Polka-Dotted Painted High Heel.
“How pretty,” I said and asked, “Chris, what is the best thing about being in the chocolate business?”
“That’s easy, we make people happy, they become our friends—we are doing good and doing well at the same time. Li-Lac is an Old Fashioned Chocolate Company, since 1923,” Mr. Taylor said.
I had a great time meeting the marvelous staff and makers of chocolate at Li-Lac. Catch it if you can at www.li-lacchocolates.com