Li-Lac Chocolates, Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, was founded by Greece’s George Demetrious.
The history of Li-Lac starts in 1923, when Demetrious, a Greek native who studied the art of chocolate making in France, emigrated to New York and opened his shop in the heart of Greenwich Village.
In the 1920s, the Village was a destination for artists, intellectuals and innovators. It was in this context that Demetrious applied his chocolate-making expertise, creating and perfecting his recipes for items like Almond Bark and Hazelnut Truffle Squares, steadily building a loyal customer following among his neighbors.
Li-Lac, an artisan chocolate company specializing in small batch, hand-made chocolate and gifts, quickly became a New York favorite and remained so over the next nine decades.
Its chocolates are still crafted using Demetrious’ original recipes, cooking techniques and ingredients. And, with more than 120 items, the selection of chocolates is one of the largest fresh gourmet chocolate offerings in the US.
Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house stayed true to its roots despite industry changes
When trendy ingredients and mass production emerged as the model for the modern chocolatier, Li-Lac remained true to its history and tradition, eschewing automation and trendiness. Deemed “stubbornly old fashioned” by the Wall Street Journal, Li-Lac is one of the few old-school chocolate companies to survive into the modern era.
Demetrious used large marble-top tables and copper kettles to perfect his signature recipes. He employed a staff of dippers and packers who contributed their own specialized care and attention to detail still found in every Li-Lac box made today.
Passing the baton to Marguerite Watt
In 1972, Demetrious passed away.
He entrusted his recipes and company to Marguerite Watt, his devoted employee of 25 years, who carried on Demetrious’ high standards for chocolate making until she retired.
“Edward Bond,” Watt would often say, “is the quintessential Southern gentleman.” And, on many occasions, she told him that she wouldn’t sell the company to just anyone. “Whoever comes in here after me, will be seeing to it that quality, caring, and commitment still count.”
Bond, a Mississippi native, was a regular patron who purchased dessert items from Li-Lac for his catering business. Whenever he visited the store, he allowed other customers to be served first so he could stay behind and visit with Watt. During the years, they became good friends and she was convinced that Bond was the perfect person to continue Li-Lac.
In 1978, Watt sold the business to Bond.
Business expansion, new items
While upholding the company’s tradition, Bond expanded the business and introduced a few items of his own. He also acquired a large selection of chocolate molds and designed Li-Lac’s first signature floral gift box packaging.
In 1981, Bond’s sister, Martha, joined him in the chocolate-making business. For Martha, “it was love at first sight!” She quickly learned the old master’s recipes, perfected his techniques, assisted customers, and helped Ed with day-to-day operations.
Together, Martha and Bond developed new recipes — most notably the Specialty Truffles, which are still a best-selling item today. Martha’s efforts were recognized in 1996, when her recipe won an award for the Best Raspberry Truffle in the Tri-State Area.
Bond passed away in 1990.
Under new leadership, opening second location
Martha Bond inherited the stewardship of Li-Lac Chocolates, nurturing the business and maintaining the same single-minded focus on product quality as Demetrious, Marguerite, and Ed had done.
In 1999, she opened a second location in Grand Central Market, bringing Li-Lac into the world’s busiest train station. When rent became too high in 2005 to continue at the Christopher Street location, the store was forced to relocate a few blocks north, while the production facility moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
In 2009, Martha retired to Mississippi to be with her beloved grandchildren.
Continuing the legacy
Today, Li-Lac is in the care of three local New York City residents: Anthony Cirone, Anwar Khoder, and Christopher Taylor.
Cirone, a resident of the West Village, began shopping at Li-Lac when he first moved to New York in the early ’90s. He loved the chocolates so much that in 2011 he bought the company, along with his two partners. Khoder began working at Li-Lac in 1989 and today is the company’s Master Chocolatier. Taylor, who has a background in finance, works behind the scenes to nurture and grow the company.
Together, this trio represents the new generation of Li-Lac owners. And, like their predecessors before them, they are committed to retaining the old-school chocolate making processes that makes Li-Lac so special and unique.
Rapid expansion, new stores and factory
In 2014, Lil-Lac built a new chocolate factory at Industry City, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Here, customers can look in through oversize windows and see the chocolate-making in action.
Lil-Lac opened a sixth store in Hudson Yards, in 2019.