By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The Amazing Grace Restaurant is the newest addition to the array of Filipino eateries of Little Manila on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens where most Filipinos in New York live. Opened in November 2019, just four months before the lockdown, it has survived the onslaught of the pandemic with its authentic Filipino dishes.
Owner-operator Efren de Leon said it’s been tough – but restaurant business means two major things for him: taking care of his workers and making sure that food is delicious and clean. His restaurant has remarkably stood the test of business slowdown and stiff competition.
Amazing Grace took over the spot of the old Krystal Restaurant, a long-time Filipino restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside.
De Leon is a self-taught culinary artist and a construction businessman at best whose ‘personal touch’ business philosophy meant checking on the freshness of meat and fish delivered to his kitchen.
“I am dealing with the life of my customers here, so I make sure that fresh at malinis ang supply ko.”
Equally important, he said, was to make sure he listened to the needs and suggestions of his workers, as happy employees are the key to any business success. He also makes sure that his workers are tested for covid19 weekly.
An experienced construction businessman, de Leon’s restaurant business is a reflection of his passion for cooking, a sort of diversification. He cooks for his wife Mary Jane, a nurse, and their only daughter at home. “They prefer my cooking,” he mused.
This detail-oriented person has been a builder since way back in Dubai for 15 years. His restaurant’s neat yet formidable indoor outdoor dining extension reflects that.
Amazing Grace also sells Philippine dry goods and pastries and provides money transfer services, making it a convenient one-stop destination for its clients. Its second floor is currently used for covid19 swab testing in partnership with a local medical clinic.
De Leon supported the Meal to Heal project of artists Xenia Reyes and Jaclyn Reyes and community organizations here which provided meals to Filipino front liners at the hospitals in Queens.
Asked why he chose the name Amazing Grace, de Leon said his wife Jane chose it in order to have a distinction among Filipino restaurants. Indeed, for anyone, Amazing Grace is quite easy and sweet to remember. #