When Guyanese-American Linden Branche and his wife Victoria moved to Irvington, New Jersey — a predominately Afro-American deprived neighborhood, back in 1982, Mrs. Branche told her husband “if you decide to made a life here you had better do something to improve the community.”
Those emotional words brought back fond memories for the couple, who recently opened the doors to D’Lorice Banquet Hall, an exquisite three-level facility at 665 Stuyvesant Ave. in the heart of East Orange.
The entrepreneurs proudly showcased a collage in the lobby of the 13000 sq. ft. banquet hall as it was being built, and later appraised at $1.3M.
With the roof garden / balcony set to open in the summer of 2016, the owners in the meantime, will welcome patrons to the top floor and lower level where the seating capacity is 173 and 103 respectively.
D’Lorice, named for the couple’s mothers Delores and Clorice, is open for business with catering by the banquet hall’s finest international chefs. Private catering with the space is also available to clients.
The brick structure is beautifully designed with dance floors, three bars and comfortable seating for weddings, sweet-sixteen, anniversary, and all other special functions.
The diverse community of Hispanic, Caribbean and Afro-American said Mr. Branche would enjoy the amenities that D’Lorice has to offer.
Victoria Branche’s vision to feature the seven continents of the world giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy what he or she loves with tailored music is still being fine-tuned.
However, the owners said they will work with clients to meet their budget needs, taking into consideration the responsibility of the facility, added the duo that is committed to offering a very high standard of service to the community.
In addition to a parking lot on the premises, the Branches are willing to assist any parking company to acquire space in the surrounding area for such a business. The building is also wheelchair accessible.
“We have travelled extensively and enjoyed great amenities at the finest places in the world so we know all about good quality and great service,” said Branche, a former computer specialist, who added that his friends questioned why he wanted to open a banquet hall in Irvington.
“I said why not us, and why not here in Irvington, and especially since there are no other black owned banquet halls in East Orange – that encompasses Hillside, Newark and Irvington,” explained Blanche.
Branche said he also chose to invest in the banquet hall to enhance the community and to engage the Caribbean community that is socially involved.
“We support a lot of social events outside of the neighborhood, so I saw a market for a banquet hall and I said why not in the Irvington community.”
“There is no need for me to be fearful of my neighborhood. We need to promote people like ourselves,” he said.
“We cannot all run from our community, or be indoctrinated by those who say Afro-American citizens can’t own a business such as this,” argued the businessman.
The impresarios who broke ground in 2009 said they worked very hard to acquire bank loans but were unsuccessful in their quest to secure funding for the project.
Through the American Re-Investment Act, the couple received bonds that unfortunately were rejected by local banks. This temporary setback however, did not deter the partners who persisted and received minimal funding through the community development of Irvington and the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority, that also offered a token to the family to construct the building.
Thanks to their savings, retirement fund, and Mrs. Branche professional accounting skills, the couple is proud to say that the banquet hall is good for the community.
Now income driven, Branche said D’Lorice is offering a “grand opening” promotional price to prospective clients.
“We look forward to support from the general community,” he said.