Oct. 23, 2019. By Shane O’Brien
A Long Island City-based granola company that educates and employs young adults with autism is set to expand into Manhattan later this week.
Non-profit Luv Michael Co. is opening a commercial kitchen and learning center at 42 Walker St. in Tribeca on Oct. 24.
The kitchen’s grand opening will be from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and will include refreshments, a tour of the facility and a presentation on Luv Michael’s best achievements to date.
The company already operates two locations – one in Long Island City at 36-46 37th St. and one in the Hamptons – and employs 20 young adults with autism.
The aim of the company is to provide training for people with autism so that they can thrive in the workplace. The work provides them with the necessary experience and confidence that they need for future jobs.
People with autism struggle to find employment, according to Luv Michael, and the experience they get working in the granola kitchen helps start their careers.
The company serves a dual purpose: providing career-finding solutions for young adults with autism and producing high-quality, healthy granola.
Luv Michael will operate a 3,000 square foot, state-of-the-art commercial space in its new Manhattan location and granola makers will train and work five days a week until they are ready to take part in the manufacturing process.
Luv Michael currently supplies granola to over 60 major retailers in the Greater New York City area, including Starbucks, Fresh & Co, D’Agostino Supermarkets and Gristedes Neighborhood Grocers.
“Luv Michael Co. was never designed … to just provide young autistic adults with ‘something to do,” said Lisa Liberatore, who co-founded Luv Michael to help her son gain experience in the workplace. “Instead, Luv Michael’s mission has always been to provide a meaningful culinary vocation for the Autistic population and to produce exceptional gluten-free and natural products.”
Liberatore wanted to create a company that would help her son and others reach their maximum potential and live happy lives.