Elizabet Flores – La Bomboniera Marylu

Elizabet Flores in her store La Bomboniera Marylu at 35-17 30th Ave

Elizabet Flores owns La Bomboniera Marylu party store on 30th Ave.  What more festive way to end this year of interviews than a conversation with her.  “We are like a party planner,” Elizabet says.  “We can help you with first communions, christenings, birthdays, weddings.  We help you with the invitations, favors, decoration of the hall…anything that you need for the party.”

The store is brimful with party products.  Among them are its namesake and Elizabet’s own personal favorite item, the favors called bombonieras.  They are small packets of five sugared almonds wrapped in tulle or organza and tied with a ribbon.  On the ribbon are words appropriate for the party, like “happy birthday” or the names of the couple if they are for a wedding.

“It’s a French, Italian and Greek tradition, so I didn’t know about them before,” says Elizabet, who is from Mexico.  “When you tell the customers, they say, ‘you didn’t know what that means?!’”  The bombonieras are given for good luck.

Elizabet says that she is always learning from customers about their own party traditions.  “For the Greek orthodox people, we do things that they have for Easter, the candles and things like that.”  At Christmas time, local Ecuadorians hold month-long celebrations for the holy boy, divino niño Jesús.  “They do it like a party for the holy boy.  They make invitations, they have a mass, they have a reception and traditional dances.  So we help them with that.”

La Bomboniera also helps customers hold small parties in their homes.  “We can rent the chairs and the tables, and do a touch with a small cake.  We just work with the Dominican cakes.  We have a lady who makes them for us.  People like the Dominican cakes a lot.  Around the area on 30th Avenue they just sell like Italian cake, French.  The difference is the paste.  It should be like a pound cake, and the filling doesn’t have cream, it just has like a guava paste, or pineapple or strawberry or chocolate.”

The store has been on 30th Ave since 2004, and its previous owner ran it for some time before that on Roosevelt Avenue.  Elizabet says that how she became involved “is a funny story.  I was the cleaning lady of the previous owner.  She got married and one day said ‘I want to sell my business’.  I thought, ‘ok, I’ll have to look for another job’.  But I was talking with a couple of friends and my family, then I talked to her and said ‘why don’t you give me the opportunity to buy your business?’

“She helped me a lot.  Because I didn’t speak English at that time.  She was helping for four months, showing me.  I was trying to learn the most that I can.   Because her husband bought another business in Florida and she had to go.  I was like, ‘oh my God I have to learn!’”

“What I can tell you?  I can’t believe I was just the person who helped her at her house and now I own her business.  Once a year she still calls me.  ‘Elizabet, how’s everything, you doing good?’”

Elizabet says that she tries to be involved with each customer as if she is planning her own party.  “In that way I think they are going to be happy and they are going to come back.  I try to keep all of my customers.  It was a very hard time when I started, but now I can tell you thank God, everything is ok.”  Her mother and her sister help her in the store.  She says that being able to work with them and the face-to-face interaction with her customers are what she enjoys most about running the store.  When her own two children have parties, she even invites a few of her customers along to join in.

If she doesn’t have an item a customer needs she does her best to find it.  “If I don’t understand exactly what they want, I just say ‘can you explain again?’  And I’ll do it.  Of course!”

La Bomboniera Marylu

Next door to La Bomboniera is Astoria Music (interview with George Phillips here), and two doors up is Astoria Billiards (interview with Carlos Sanclementi here).



Martha Heredia and Elvis Raymundo

I spoke with Martha Heredia and her nephew Elvis Raymundo in Grand Avenue Laundromat.  Martha works there.  Elvis had dropped in to see his aunt on his way to play football nearby.


I came here from Mexico in 1990. For 15 years I worked in clothing factories – six years in Manhattan and nine near Queensboro Plaza.  The factory owners were Korean but they spoke Spanish perfectly.  That’s why I’ve never learned English.  [We had this conversation in Spanish].

Then the one for whom I had been working for nine years got tired of living and working here.  He sold the factory and went back to his country.  The work changed and I didn’t like what they did so I left.

I had a baby girl and took a bit of time out.  Then I got work in a laundromat, where I was trained on the job.  It was a big laundromat, and good work, but I didn’t like the way the managers were.  That was when I thought of asking in here for work, in Grand Avenue Laundromat.   I had moved to the neighborhood when I got married, after spending three years living in Manhattan.  I lived for a bit on Crescent Street but the apartment there was very small.  Then I found my current apartment on 35th Street that I love.  I’ve been there 18 years now.  So I had always come here to wash my clothes but till then it hadn’t occurred to me to ask.  I got the job, and now I work five minutes from my home.

I have a sister who lives in Mexico but my other four siblings and my parents all live here.  I’ve only been back to Mexico twice in 21 years.  There’s no need because practically all my family is here.


I live on 36th Street.  I’ve got two more years to go in high school and then plan to go to culinary college.  I’d like to be a chef.  Not necessarily have my own restaurant, it’s hard to manage a restaurant.  To be a chef.  My favorite food to cook is Mexican and Italian.

This is a peaceful neighborhood.  There are no problems except sometimes when people from other parts come through, that’s all.  Generally it’s peaceful.


There weren’t so many businesses here 18 years ago.  The cafés and things are recent.  It’s nice during the summer when the street is full of people.  And in the night time you don’t have to worry about things.  We close at midnight and there are still businesses open, people in the street.  When my girl was small we would walk out here late at night (we slept late in the mornings, so she’d be up late), and she loved it.

Everyone knows her round here.  We know the business owners and the workers alike.  Some of the young people come here to live while they study and then they leave.  But most of the people in the neighborhood I have known for years and years.