New York’s ‘oldest chocolate factory’ expands ahead of Valentine’s Day

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Homemade chocolate-covered heart-shaped marshmallows dripping through the 9,000-square-foot production space of Li-Lac Chocolates in New York City, as the chocolate factory ramped up production in time for New York’s -Valentine’s Day, one of its busiest times of the year.

Just three days before the Valentine’s Day holiday, employees were busy Friday decorating chocolate hearts with colorful sprinkles, dipping cherries in chocolate and making caramel filling.

They also rushed to place chocolates in red and gold boxes to sell online and at the company’s six outlets.

Anwar Khoder, the factory’s master chocolatier and production manager, said, “I work about 18 hours a day, you know, to keep up with demand.”

From a business perspective, Li-Lac president and co-owner Anthony Cirone said it was the second-biggest party for sales. “We sell more chocolates on Valentine’s Day… than at any other time of the year outside of Christmas.”

Despite some of the challenges with stocking certain raw materials, the chocolate house is optimistic about its sales prospects this holiday.

“We’ve had some of those same issues with supply chain shortages and price increases,” said Cirone, who added that the company is doing its best to navigate it.

The company has grown its online business during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it said store sales were starting to pick up again, as tourists and office workers began to return to Manhattan.

“People love chocolate, you know, and it’s a nice little break and a treat for people,” Cirone said.

Li-Lac Chocolates has been around since 1923 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, all handmade using the founders’ original recipes from the 1920s.

He makes what he calls “old fashioned chocolate”.

The National Retail Federation expects Valentine’s Day spending to hit $23.9 billion on Monday, up from $21.8 billion in 2021.

It says sweets – including chocolate – remain the most popular item, followed by greeting cards and flowers.

(Reporting by Christine Kiernan; editing by Diane Craft)

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