Just over a year after proclaiming that she rested the survival of her business on faith, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Zita Telemaque-Williams, the Vincentian-born co-owner of SVG Caribbean Bakery and Restaurant on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, is still very upbeat in her belief.
“With God’s help and hard work, our faithful customers continue to support us,” said Telemaque-Williams, a Born-Again Christian, who co-owns the bakery with her compatriot husband, Samuel “Lennox” Williams, told Caribbean Life in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
SVG Caribbean Bakery and Restaurant is located at 1621 Nostrand Ave., between Tilden Avenue and Beverly Road, in East Flatbush.
“They continue coming and sending their families and friends to support us,” said Telemaque-Williams — who worships at Miracle Temple Ministries, an evangelical church, whose parishioners are primarily Jamaicans and Vincentians, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn – referring to customers. “I want to thank them, and I really appreciate their support.
“Throughout everything that we were going through, with the pandemic, they stayed with us,” she added. “They never gave up on us; they continued. They really, really supported us through the pandemic, the winter, La Soufriere volcanic eruptions (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines). They have been so supportive to us.”
Telemaque-Williams – who migrated to New York in 1987 from Canouan in the southern St. Vincent Grenadine islands — said that though her “business is not back to 100 percent — I will say 95 percent — we’re doing good.
“I continue to believe in God, continue to trust in Him; and everything I do, I put Him first,” she said. “Because of Him, my doors remained open during the pandemic.”
Telemaque-Williams said that when La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted in April, she was able to ship 10 barrels of relief supplies, comprising food items, clothing, books and toys, among other things, for churches and families.
“Customers also supported us from different islands, such as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados,” she said. “I also reached out to Jamaican Pastor Skeen (of Sons of God Deliverance Ministries at 34 Blasson Rd., Valley Stream, Long Is.), who immediately donated toys, clothing, toiletries and monetary gifts.
Telemaque-Williams also thanked her landlord, J. Wesser and Co., who gave monetary contributions.
“I have three barrels packing right now of relief supplies for St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” she said. “My customers were very supportive. They were very helpful to us.
“I want to thank God again,” she continued. “When you have faith and belief, you receive. With God, all things are possible.”
In March last year, at the height of the pandemic, Telemaque-Williams, who retired in December 2019 as a full-time federal employee in the Nursing Department with the Veterans Affairs Health Administration, in St. Alban’s, Queens, said business had slowed considerably.
Nevertheless, she said she had enough customers to keep it afloat.
“I run this business on faith,” Telemaque-Williams said then. “Instead of complaining, I just trust God. That’s how I love my God.
“People come and say, ‘All yo will have to close down,’” she added. “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 would 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).”
In turning to Psalms 91:1, Telemaque-Williams said: “’He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’”
Four years after Vincentian Registered Nurse Cynthia Bernard, proprietor of the former Ethlyn’s Bakery, went to the Great Beyond, her brother, Samuel, Telemaque-Williams’ husband, and 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 said.
“Our goal is to have a back-home feel about the bakery, baking familiar goods for the Caribbean community in the neighborhood,” she added. “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.
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 am to 4:00 pm.
One can call the bakery directly at (718) 693-1926, or Telemaque-Williams at (917) 376-9288.