Owner of SVG Caribbean Bakery rests on faith amid coronavirus pandemic

Zita Telemaque-Williams, co-owner of SVG-Caribbean Bakery stands behind counter at bakery.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Zita Telemaque-Williams, the Vincentian-born co-owner of SVG Caribbean Bakery and Restaurant on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, is still upbeat, resting on her faith, despite the toll that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having on small businesses.

“I trust in God,” the Born-Again Christian, who co-owns the bakery with her compatriot husband, Samuel “Lennox” Williams, told Caribbean Life in an interview, at the bakery at 1621 Nostrand Ave., between Tilden Avenue and Beverly Road, on Friday.

“With God, all things are possible,” added Telemaque-Williams, who worships at Miracle Temple Ministries, an evangelical church, whose parishioners are primarily Jamaicans and Vincentians, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. “Customers will come. I may not get the amount (usual), but they’ll come.

Signage at SVG-Caribbean Bakery on Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn.Photo by Nelson A. King

“When I started this business, I put God first; and everything I do, I talk to God about it,” she continued. “I strongly believe in Him.

“I’m not complaining,” she said. “I just give God thanks and praise. I’m holding on. The joy of the Lord is your strength; and I believe in that.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Telemaque-Williams, who retired in December as a full-time federal employee in the Nursing Department with the Veterans Affairs Health Administration, said business has slowed considerably.

Nevertheless, she said, she has had enough customers to keep it afloat.

“I run this business on faith,” Telemaque-Williams affirmed. “I know (aware of the toll of) the coronavirus, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

“Instead of complaining, I just trust God,” she added. “That’s how I love my God.

“People come and say, ‘All yo will have to close down,’” she continued. “I don’t watch what other people do; I just run this business with integrity and trust and belief. With God, all things are possible.”

When asked if, in the worse-case scenario, the bakery will be forced to shutter, Telemaque-Williams maintained optimism.

“I just hope for the best,” she said. “I trust God, and everything will be ok. We will get through this.

“You always have to prepare for an emergency and rainy days,” she added. “By God’s grace, I will manage to continue with the rent (paying).”

Telemaque-Williams then turned to Psalms 91:1: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

As her husband shuffles from the back to the front of the bakery, he invoked only: “God bless us all!”

Shortly afterwards, Barbadian Christopher Green, who lives on East 31st Street in East Flatbush, entered, purchasing saltfish paddies.

“Saltfish paddies are the best,” he told a reporter. “I was hoping that the bakery will open.

“Plus, I wanted to come and support them, because I know they’ll be hard-hit,” he added. “It’s more than a restaurant; it’s like family.”

Four years after Vincentian Cynthia Bernard, proprietor of the former Ethlyn’s Bakery, went to the Great Beyond, her brother, Samuel Williams, and sister-in-law, Zita Telemaque-Williams, purchased the bakery, renaming it SVG Caribbean Bakery and Restaurant.

“We decided to change the name from Ethlyn’s Bakery to SVG Caribbean Bakery as a celebration of our culture and an inclusiveness for the Caribbean people in the community,” Telemaque-Williams told Caribbean Life last August.

“Our goal is to have a back-home feel about the bakery, baking familiar goods for the Caribbean community in the neighborhood,” added Mrs. Telemaque-Williams, who migrated to New York in 1987. “We are catering to everyone, even though its mainly Caribbean goods.

“We provide a wide variety of baked goods many people are familiar with, and will acquire a taste for our excellent eateries,” she continued, disclosing that those “excellent eateries” comprise, among others, hard dough bread, red belly, sweet potato pudding, saltfish patty, peanut sugar cake, penny bread, bread pudding, cassava pudding and coconut drops.

Mrs. Telemaque-Williams said many clients are also “in love with our saltfish patties, herring patty, breadfruit and saltfish, sweet potato pudding, red belly and peanut sugar cake.”

“These items are a must-have daily,” she declared, stating that the bakery opens daily – Monday to Saturday, from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm; and Sundays, from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

One can call the bakery directly at (718) 693-1926, or Mrs. Telemaque-Williams at (917) 376-9288.

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