Restaurant owners and sisters Angela Singh and Pamela Ramsewack know the true meaning of the word altruism.
At the Caribbean Cabana, a Caribbean and West-Indian cuisine restaurant, located at 116-02 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill, the owners welcomed more than 70 seniors to a free Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday, Nov. 16.
Hosting the first senior lunch since the pandemic halted their seven-year streak, the event was certainly bittersweet. Ramsewack recalled how in years past, the restaurant would call seniors to let them know about the lunch, but when calls were made recently, it was a different story.
“I was so sad because when we tried calling, a majority of them were no longer with us,” said Ramsewack.
Singh told QNS that there’s only one rule that she and her sister have continued since starting their restaurant: “don’t ever count what you’re giving. Just give with your heart.”
It’s a way of giving back that Singh said started with her husband, whose picture hangs near the entrance of the restaurant. Singh and her husband, Ramesh Singh, opened the doors to the Caribbean Cabana in 2007.
Singh said her husband was passionate about giving back to the seniors in the community and making sure they were given the company they needed. But when Ramesh died in 2009, it was up to Singh and her sister to keep her husband’s mission alive.
As part of the free senior lunch, participants packed the dining area of the restaurant. The artwork, depicting iconic sites of Guyana, Trinidad, and other Caribbean territories, stands out along the walls before entering the dining area.
Chicken, fried rice, vegetables and other dishes were kept warm and tended to by the staff. Seniors quickly lined up once the food was ready to be served and filled their plates with an assortment of options.
Community Board 9 Chair Sherry Algredo also made sure to invite the community and some elected officials to join the Caribbean Cabana for the senior lunch.
“I lived here 22 years I only discovered this last year,” Algredo said, emphasizing how great it was to have stumbled upon the restaurant and learning about their journey.
Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. stopped by shortly after dessert was served to share his thanks with the sisters for servicing seniors in the district. He thanked the owners, restaurant staff and seniors for attending.
The restaurant owners also thoroughly thanked the members of their staff, especially some who decided to volunteer to help on their day off. Friends and business associates of the restaurant, including Bugzy Beverage, which helped provide the drinks, were also recognized for their contributions.