March 4, 2024Lancaster City Restaurant Week: GEM’s Catering Café

Discover exciting dining experiences during the 10th annual Lancaster City Restaurant Week, running from March 4th to March 10th! Embark on a culinary adventure in Lancaster City, indulging in a variety of cuisines showcased through each unique dish. Whether you’re eager to revisit your favorite spots or explore new culinary treasures, this week offers endless opportunities to satisfy your palate.

One business participating this year is GEM’s Catering Café, a local catering business at 601 N Queen St that is now offering grab and go dishes from their storefront. When visiting the café during Restaurant Week, pick up their featured Puerto Rican Dish of yellow rice served with chicken or pulled pork with a side of sweet plantains!

Emily Gonzalez, the owner of GEM’s Catering Cafe, was inspired by her grandmother to start her catering business as she was looking for a way to spend more time with her children. She began selling platters out of her home to residents throughout the city just as her grandmother does in Puerto Rico. She quickly saw how well her platters were selling, so she decided to open a storefront to better serve her customers. “My grandmother in Puerto Rico told me that she sells platters out of her house, and I said ‘Oh my God that sounds amazing,’ so I started selling platters on Fridays with a soda and dessert that took off. I was selling 50 or more at a time.”

Gonzalez’s family didn’t just inspire her business, but they created her love for cooking also. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez spent most of her time in the kitchen with her grandmother. “Growing up all we did was cook. At age six, seven, and eight years old I was always sitting at the kitchen counter with my grandmother.”

Family continues to run deep in the business as her children inspired the name. “My two kids and I inspired the name. I wanted to incorporate them into my business somehow as they love being a part of it. My son loves prepping with me and my daughter is actually going to be running the storefront which I am beyond happy about.”

Once entering the restaurant, customers can grab sandwiches and salads to take home. “Some of the food that we will be selling is going to be salads and wraps like chicken caesar or ranch jerk sweet chili. We will also have cold subs including chicken and tuna salad. We also plan to sell juice from a local business as well as homemade coffee from Colombia and Ethiopia.” Pastries will also be available to pair with the homemade coffee. Additionally, Gonzalez wants to sell hot meals in the future to give customers a taste of her catering menu.

As her business continues to grow, Gonzalez plans to expand her storefront to include two kitchens: one for catering and one for grab and go meals. She also hopes to introduce a healthier selection for customers to chose from. “I want to incorporate meal preps again which I used to provide people. I also want to add more juice options and a healthier aspect because I am an active person. Having healthy options can provide a balance for people.”

Overall, Gonzalez hopes to make an impact in the Lancaster City community, specifically by supporting other women owned businesses. “I want to be more involved into helping other women. I host women empowerment events where I invite a bunch of small business owners and give them a platform to talk about how they began and the difficulties of owning a business. Being involved in the community means we can all connect to help each other grow.”

As Lancaster City Restaurant Week unfolds, we revel in the delicious journey through our city’s culinary wonders, shining a spotlight on the newest business, GEM’s Catering Cafe. This vibrant addition exemplifies the spirit of innovation and community that defines Lancaster City’s dining scene. Let’s actively support and cherish our local eateries as we continue to explore this week’s offerings. Here’s to savoring another day of gastronomic delights in Lancaster City!

Click here to view the list of all participating businesses for the 10th annual Lancaster City Restaurant Week.