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Douglaston Couple Wins Essay Contest

New Yorkers may or may not choose to vacation in the great state of South Dakota, but that was the destination for the lucky winners of the 40th anniversary contest at Ben’s Delicatessen Restaurant & Caterers.


Last year, Ben’s celebrated its 40th anniversary of culinary service at its Greenvale location, and offered various contests – essay, photo, and t-shirt design – for its most loyal customers. For the essay prize, it offered an essay contest for its most loyal customers. Since South Dakota was the 40th state to join the Union, it was chosen as the destination for the winners, who turned out to be Lorraine and James Maniscalco of Douglaston, Queens.


The vacation took place from July 13-16 of this year. Last Friday, the Maniscalcos visited Ben’s to share memories of their time in South Dakota, a state that includes such attractions as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, the Corn Palace and Badlands National Park. 


Along with numerous other local residents, Mr. and Mrs. Maniscalco entered the “Why I Love Ben’s” Facebook essay contest and were eligible to win, along with participants in the

Ben’s Facebook photo contest, T-shirt design contest and the essay contest.


The winning essay, as penned by Mrs. Maniscalco read as follows:


If it can’t be dinner at Mom’s, then let it be dinner at Ben’s. Whenever my family and I eat at Ben’s it is like putting on an old soft shoe. Ben’s is a comfort zone. The food consistently good and fixes whatever ails you. The matzah ball soup really perks you up and nothing cleans up the bowl better than a slice of challah bread. When you are ill, the soup makes you feel better and when you are well it makes you feel energized. We usually go to Ben’s on a Friday or Saturday night. The atmosphere is casual and friendly. The cole slaw is immediately brought to our table and it is crispy and firm and served along with crunchy, salty pickles. All of the waiters know us and don’t even have to ask what we want to order. Our ‘usual,’ Chicken Francese with sides of potato pancakes and knishes, satisfies time and time again. The food is always abundant, fresh and cooked just right.


Everyone leaves with a doggy bag that is fought over the next day. We really love Ben’s and make it a part of our lives at least once a week. For us it is like coming home.