Queens cafe celebrates one-year anniversary with Thanksgiving specials and DIY Filipino tacos

Little Chef Little Café owner Diana Manalang
Photo courtesy of Lily Brown MST Creative PR

Little Chef Little Café is celebrating its one-year anniversary, a significant milestone for any business, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The intimate eatery, located at 5-43 48th Ave., made some adjustments to their operations as a result by expanding their delivery and takeout options, offering window service, some outdoor seating and a weekly meal delivery service.

Chef and owner Diana Manalang added more comfort foods, which as a Filipino-American, means adding more Filipino soups, empanadas, tacos and kinilaw (ceviche) to the health-conscious yet flavorful menu.

Little Chef Little Cafe Empanadas (Photo courtesy of Lily Brown MST Creative PR)
Little Chef Little Cafe Lentil Soup 2 (Photo courtesy of Lily Brown MST Creative PR)

Manalang said the pandemic has impacted her business, like other small businesses in the city, but mostly due to relying heavily on catering and event sales, which were all canceled during the lockdown earlier in the year and are still not back to the pre-COVID volume. In March alone, they lost 70 percent of revenue due to all of the event cancellations and it has since continued to decrease.

But, Manalang notes they’ve been lucky to remain open throughout the lockdown.

“Our takeout window has saved our livelihood and the addition of the Open Streets initiative allowed us to bring seats outside during good weather days,” Manalang said. “We were also able to meet and connect with so many of our neighbors, which was another fortunate outcome of this turn of events. They have all been so loyal and encouraging throughout this ordeal and we are so grateful to them. We are also very grateful to LIC Relief for allowing us to be a part of their efforts to feed our neighbors who needed assistance during these hard times. Their contributions really allowed us to stay busy and keep some of our team employed during the pause.”

In celebration of their one-year anniversary, Little Chef Little Café offered a week of specials and launched a “Filipino Taco Stand” so customers could create their own taco, available in fried wonton shells or classic corn tortilla, for delivery and takeout or at their outdoor space. The fillings include pork adobo, chicken adobo, chicken afritada with spicy tomato pepper sauce, potatoes, carrots and vinegar slaw, as well as veggie ginataang, vegetables sautéed in coconut milk and topped with spicy pickled pineapple.

The DYI Taco Kits range from personal size (three pieces for $14 or five pieces for $20) to family size with 10, 15 or 20 tacos.

Little Chef Little Cafe pork adobo taco (Photo courtesy of Lily Brown MST Creative PR)

While Manalang sees outdoor dining as a huge help, she understands they’ll have to rely on takeout and delivery during the cold weather months.

“We are launching items and programs to help facilitate this transition, so that when the fair weather is back, we will be more than ready to take advantage of it with our patio setup,” said Manalang. “These programs include our existing weekly meal prepared dishes, soups by the quart that people can pre-order and get once a week, stocking up for the cold weather, as well as DIY Filipino Taco Kits and baked goods boxes for easy ordering and pickup [and] delivery.”

And as a seasonal treat, Manalang created a take home feast for Thanksgiving. They are offering “Thanksgiving by the Plate,” a holiday meal for a family or solo diners (for $40 per person), complete with butternut squash bisque, turkey or herb roasted beef, stuffing, smothered green beans, roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, buttered corn relish, cornbread, gravy, cranberry sauce and apple crisp for dessert.

For dessert, they’re offering Thanksgiving Cupcakes, decorated with turkeys and pilgrim hats ($40 per dozen) or pumpkin cupcakes ($36 per person) and seasonal breads, including savory pumpkin bread with caramelized onions, rosemary and pumpkin seeds ($10 per loaf) and cornbread loaf ($8).

Thanksgiving orders can be made now through Nov. 18 at www.littlecheflittlecafe.com/thanksgiving2020. Little Chef Little Café will also be open for breakfast and brunch on Thanksgiving.

This story first appeared on our sister publication qns.com.

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