Interview with George at Waterside Cafe: Good Food for Good People

If you attended our Christmas party, you’ll have tasted Waterside Cafe delicious creations!

Waterside Cafe did the catering for that– and for a number of our events – including our grand July 4th fireworks party.

You might also have had a meal at this charming restaurant, since it’s located just downstairs (at 25 Waterside Plaza).

We spoke with George Gaspar, Waterside Cafe’s owner, about new developments at the Cafe.

“Iron Chef” George

You did the food for the Waterside Christmas party, which everyone was thrilled about.

Thank you. Thank you.

Give me the inside scoop on Waterside Cafe! What’s new and exciting?

Pizza being made at Waterside Cafe

Pizza being made at Waterside Cafe

We’re changing the menu around a little bit. And we’ve added pizza.

Oh! Pizza! What kind?

We’re doing a New York-style cheese – with whatever toppings you like. Pepperoni, mushrooms, tomatoes – anything you’d like to put on top.

That sounds great. So that’s in both a personal size and a large option?

Yes, right now, we’re doing the seven-inch, personal-size and the large, 18-inch.

When is the pizza being rolled out? Literally.

It started a few weeks ago. The pizza is already up and running.

What else are you rolling out? Figuratively.

We’re going to start doing dinner specials. Like right now, Friday nights, we have a $15.95 prime rib special. It’s prime rib with a potato and a vegetable. Every night will have its own dinner special. We plan to have a night a week with mussels in a red sauce. The rotating dinner specials will happen by the end of January, beginning of February.

Lots of dinner developments! What about for other meals?

We also now have a 2-for-1 Happy Hour special every day.  And that special changes daily. That could be a 2-for-1 on appetizers, a 2-for-1 on sandwiches, 2-for-1 on beer or wine.

We’re also putting together a much nicer brunch menu. For instance, we just added French Toast.

Yum! Maybe I’m a little too excited. But I love brunch!

And hopefully on Sundays, we’re have a Sunday brunch with mimosas. We have a beer and wine license – so we can do that.

Do you do delivery? Not for the mimosas, maybe – but in general?

We do. We deliver to the property only: Only to Waterside tenants.

Exclusive.

How can people order food for delivery?

They can call us. The phone number is 212-685-2233.

I heard you’re offering Halal foods as a new feature? 

Yes, we have three items that Halal-certified. We serve Halal-certified chicken patties, chicken tenders, and a hamburger that’s Halal-certified.

We’re all big fans of the fries. They’re so good. They’re terribly addictive, though. Can you stop that? Can you make them less addictive?

No, that’s what they are. That’s the best part of them.

Sigh. Okay. I guess we’ll just have to exercise willpower.

Do you also offer catering for tenants?

Definitely! We do catering for any type of event. For one tenant, we delivered four dozen hors d’oeuvres. She was having a party at their home, and she decided she didn’t want to do the hors d’oeuvres part of the dinner, so we delivered hors d’oeuvres for her.

She cooked the rest of the dinner, and we did the hors d’oeuvres.

We can do anything – from a small cocktail party for five, to 10, to 15 people, and all the way up to – you know, we’ve done the 4th of July here for Waterside, which is 6,000 guests.

That was a huge party!

We have a full catering staff, chefs – and we have wait staff if needed.

What a great solution – because that’s the worst part of the party, as far as I’m concerned —

The setup and the cleanup.

Exactly! Seeing people is wonderful. It’s just all the hassle – and clean-up. It can be too draining.

Do you have a specific catering menu?

We customize all the menus. We have a standard list of appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, and entrees, but it ends up being all personalized.

Does Waterside Cafe have a rewards card?

We do. If you give us your e-mail or your mobile number, it automatically signs you up, or you can link it to your credit card. And every time you come in, after five purchases, you receive a 10% discount.

Perfect.

And we have a great clientele here. We’re very lucky.

That’s lovely to hear!

It feels like everybody wishes us the best. And we hope they understand that we are trying every day to make it a good experience, at a fair price.

What need have you filled at Waterside?  

We provide a service for the person in the morning who needs a cup of coffee, or an egg sandwich, or a quick breakfast on their way to the bus. And during the day, most of the employees of Waterside stop by and have lunch with us. And then as the evening comes, some people come back for dinner. They know that we have beer and wine, and they can stop in for a drink, and to mingle with the tenants.

That’s especially comforting. Sometimes, at the end of the day, all you want to do is have dinner somewhere close to home where you know the food will be good, so you can just go home easily right after.

What we want to do is be part of the community. We want to be part of Waterside. And that’s what we are. It’s someplace where people know the name of the cook, and the cashier, and the barista. They’ll know their order. You know, we recognize faces and names, and we’re part of the community.

And we have some really good, good people working for us, and we try to keep them.

That’s something I was going to mention! Everybody loves your team. They’re engaging, they seem to care. Obviously you make an effort to hire good  people.

We try to take care of our employees, and I think we have a great crew.

Waterside Cafe Staff

George and his Waterside Cafe crew

What appeals to you about the restaurant business? You’ve been in the industry for over 30 years. 

I like to see things work. I like to see things happen. I have manager Alfred that works for me. He was a driver for me seven years ago. And we made him a dishwasher. He moved to a porter. We taught him how to cook, and he got it, and he wanted to learn. And we put him into the Cafe, and he learned how to make pizza. And then he learned how to manage the Cafe, and now he’s my manager.

Oh, that’s so great.

He’s my number two guy.

You have items people can grab on the go on their way to work – in a display case at the Cafe.

Yes, we have a grab and go. We have a full-time pastry chef, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate. Her name is Jasmine Myers. She does all our pastries and all baking.

Oh, it’s all made in house!

Yes. We make chocolate chip cookies. We make oatmeal raisin. We do fresh muffins every day. Of course, the bread pudding. Almost everything in our showcase is scratch-baked.

What’s your favorite?

My treat, which I’m not supposed to eat anymore, is an oatmeal raisin cookie. I love sneaking an oatmeal raisin cookie. Oh, and the doughnuts, which we don’t make – but they’re delicious. The glazed doughnut is unbelievable, but I don’t eat those. I’m not allowed.

You’re not allowed. Like everyone with the fries.

And, finally, an important piece of information, what are your hours?

We’re open seven days. Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Saturday, we open at 8:00 a.m., and we close at 9:00 p.m., and Sunday, we open at 9:00 a.m., and close at 9:00 p.m.