Last Tuesday, over 30 local eateries were represented at Citi Field for Queens Economic Development Corporation’s (QEDC) A Taste of the World event, a showcase of the best culinary delights the borough has to offer.
“Many restaurants in Queens are small neighborhood businesses, cornerstones of their neighborhoods,” said QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein, “and we want to let people know that they’re there, to take advantage and to think local.”
Not that all the restaurants need help letting people know that they’re there. London Lennie’s of Rego Park and Mama’s of Corona, which have been in business for over 50 and 80 years, respectively, were honored as “Iconic Restaurants” for their decades of feeding the Queens community.
Bornstein said the two restaurants deserved the titles because they are landmarks in their communities, exemplify successful family small businesses, and provide great customer service.
Irene DeBenedittis and her sisters Marie and Carmela are the third generation in their family to operate Leo’s Latticini, best known as Mama’s of Corona. DeBenedittis mentioned that receiving the award was special because many things have changed over the years, and businesses have come and gone, but Mama’s remained through it all.
“This is an honor,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see that people appreciate us and our food because my family, we put our entire lives into this place.”
London Lennie’s Owner Les Barnes pointed out that six couples met at the restaurant and went on to get married. He added that most of the employees have been there for years, some for as many as 30.
“You know you’re an iconic restaurant when you have births and deaths and your restaurant becomes its own little family,” said Barnes. “It’s been a fun ride.