Hanover Square’s Leonidas Belgian Chocolate offers a taste of Europe’s imported sweets in the heart of Manhattan. Beyond the glass storefront and blue awning, the sound of classical music is a welcome escape from the bustle of New York City.

estled in the Financial District, foot traffic at 3 Hanover Square is a combination of businessmen and tourists. Leonidas is a gathering place for FiDi’s brightest minds, where the hum of piano mixes seamlessly with a new investment banker talking himself up at an interview, an Italian man on a business trip speaking on the phone and the soft whoosh of the milk foamer as baristas whisk past each other, filling cups to the brim.

Regulars to both the Hanover and the Broadway locations, Justin Lo and Bruce Zhou discuss travel plans over a single macchiato .

“[Leonidas] is calm,” says Lo with a piece of dark chocolate in hand. “You can sit down, have a cup of coffee and chit chat for a bit. You can take a break from work, which is nice.”

hile couples and business partners catch up over white chocolate pralines, the most popular treat offered by Leonidas, the employees at Leonidas are constantly on their feet.

s a Leonidas employee approaches the counter, ceramic mugs in hand, he calls out to Bill, a regular to the Hanover location. In the same breath he recommends the classic hot chocolate, a combination of foamed milk and a piece of Belgian milk chocolate, to a woman new to the area. Passerbys and regulars alike are treated like family.

Employee and seasoned hot chocolate drinker Miguel Olivo greets customers with a warm smile and an extended hand. Laughing at his own thick, Hispanic accent, Olivo jokes about being a Latino selling  European chocolates with an Asian woman heading the coffee shop.

The different faces and ethnicities of Leonidas Belgian Chocolate showcase the diversity of New York, and create a place to escape the chaos of the city that never sleeps.

By Kendall Shanks