For over one year, there have been no celebrations in the banquet hall industry because of the coronavirus pandemic, but gradually owners are becoming optimistic, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced limited capacity is allowed, with COVID-19 protocols in place.
Owner of Thomasina’s Catering Hall, Valencia Williams, in an exclusive interview with Caribbean Life, recently, said like anyone else, “we were devastated when the shutdown came, and had to stop every thing, not only the business, but we had to lay off employees.”
Thomasina’s, a full-service catering hall, located at 205-35 Linden Blvd., in St. Albans, Queens, is designed with two rooms, one that seats 270 patrons, and the other 80 patrons. The venue that offers packages inclusive of meals, music, deejay, a liquor bar, and professional photography, is poised to open on April 4, 2021 for a dine-in Easter buffet, from noon to 5 pm.
Dine-in price, $14.99, take-out price is $6.99/lb.
Mrs. Williams whose family-owned business has been a strong source of service to the community for more than 40 years, noted that despite the facility not using utilities, companies were still issuing bills. She shared, that in spite, only the refrigerator that we kept running, and the use of small amounts of water, bills mounted up.”
Along with her husband, Frank, both Panamanian-born, they managed the best they could, before getting the opportunity to start a Sunday buffet take-out service, from 1 pm to 5 pm from June 2020. However, she said the financial intake was minimal since the word that they were open once a week was slow to reach the community.
They tried unsuccessfully to attract customers in a timely manner. Meanwhile, Thomasina’s Catering continued to lose revenue, because according to Mrs. Williams, the cash flow was not enough to pay the cooks and waiters, and maintain the facility.
They continued the business, she said, because they wanted to provide the service to their community. Patrons also enjoyed the meals served, and appreciated the take-out service, since at that time there was no indoor dining, as Thomasina’s remained COVID-19 compliant.
The service offers a pastor for wedding ceremonies, if couples so wish. The space too, is rented with or without meals.
Now that the catering hall is reopening, patrons who request a special dish, not offered, are entitled to bring in their own cuisine. However, it would have to be prepared by a licensed cook. “We cannot take responsibility for food that we did not prepare,” she insisted.
“We are receiving inquiries regarding bookings, so we are letting people know we are available.”
The majority of the bookings are being scheduled for the summer months. “We look forward to hosting activities in full, but it depends on people maintaining safety. Because if we are not safe we will be back to square one,” she warned.”
“We are COVID-19 compliant. Mask is required for entry, temperature will be checked, while hand sanitizers are planted around the rooms. In addition to social distancing, we do contact tracing for anyone sitting down to have a meal,” she said.
“Most of our business comes from word of mouth, which is the best because if someone is satisfied, they will tell others.”
“We are interesting in customers coming to experience what it feels like to be in a black establishment, that’s clean, that is kept-up, and safe,” she said.
She reiterated that Thomasian’s is open again for full indoor dining, and takeout. “We look forward to maintaining our regular customers, welcoming new ones, and having all come to the Sunday buffet, to see how they like it.”
The catering hall that offers business lunches, wedding, cocktail reception, baby shower, birthday celebration, retirement celebration, fundraiser, holiday party and more, prides itself on providing good service.
According to the website: www.thomasinascateringhall.com: “Great taste is the name of the game and we’re committed to stepping up to the plate. Our goal is to provide delicious, natural options. That’s why we prepare all of our meals with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.”