Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Local Voices: Disappointed in The Columbian Club #3540


Submitted by Steve and LaTasha García

To Whom it May Concern,

We are ‘The Cookout Caterers,’ a small but ever-inventive food service company. When we partnered with The Columbian Club — “aka” Kasey’s Banquet Hall and Restaurant in Lansing, Illinois — we were very grateful and committed to giving their facility our very best. Initially, we felt welcomed and were very much eager to help bring the banquet hall and restaurant back to life after COVID and their renovation efforts. My wife and I spent countless hours working to give the patrons at Kasey’s the best service. Although we were not perfect as a company, we always welcomed suggestions and criticism on how to make service better and did our very best to correct our mistakes. Under our three-year tenure, we served over 19,000 patrons at over 300 events, including discounted and charity events for Knights members and their staff.

But we were always made to feel our efforts were never enough for The Columbian Club. I personally had many private conversations with the current president of the Columbian Club at Kasey’s Banquet Hall and Restaurant, conversations that I was led to believe were genuine. Whether it was future plans for the facility regarding retaining our services as their in-house caterer, to resolving internal issues with staff from both sides of the fence, I was led to believe we had a long-term future together. Instead, I was left with broken and misleading promises. My wife and I were blindsided, being asked to gather our stuff and vacate the facility without fair and sufficient warning, which can be devastating to a small business.

In May of 2021, we partnered with The Columbian Club. We were given an 18-month written contract to start, which expired on December 31, 2022. Upon that contract’s expiration, we were offered a three-month contract with a verbal agreement to finalize a subsequent written contract for the remainder of 2023 and beyond. But that never happened. Our goal was to remain long-term and to help develop Kasey’s Banquet Hall and Restaurant into a successfully sustainable, thriving business. Unfortunately, we were consistently lied to and misled.

We, The Cookout, committed ourselves and showed up every day for work to serve clients at any and all occasions: memorials/repasts, weddings and receptions, birthdays, baby showers, baptisms, retirement parties, etc….hundreds of occasions, including holiday events. We performed for 9 months on a verbal agreement and our word to fulfill all services for paying clients, only to have our good will taken advantage of and our dedication to The Columbian Club exploited. As a fellow Knight, I felt especially betrayed and let down, I felt helpless for my wife, a Black woman, who was unwelcomed and mislabeled as thief.

Mind you, Columbian Club staff members are currently telling me that some of the Knights, the Columbian Club, and their manager hate my wife for unknown reasons. However, our patrons and repeat clients who have spent plenty of money to keep Kasey’s and The Cookout successful say otherwise.

We were promised sufficient notice from the Columbian Club president to transition out of the facility if our services were no longer needed. Instead, we were met with a “get out” with NO NOTICE, conveniently after the busy holiday season, without justification. We were essentially evicted, embarrassed and humiliated before our employees, our affiliates, not to mention family and colleagues. To add insult to injury, the patrons we served for three years, and Kasey’s employees, to whom The Cookout catered repasts for their deceased loved ones FOR FREE, were privy to the fact that the Columbian Club was pushing out its catering partner all while not telling their catering partner! We were not afforded the opportunity to transition out with dignity and gratitude. We were forced to throw out thousands of dollars’ worth of food, product, and supplies because we were purposely and deceptively not given sufficient notice of this severance and had nowhere to smoothly transition our belongings. We were used; and once they were done utilizing us, they intended on dumping us.

And they continued to grin in our faces.

It’s just heartbreaking to know that The Columbian Club and Kasey’s who are all Knights preach integrity, charity, fraternity, brotherhood, and honor with a code of ethics, does business this way with a catering company who gave it their all for them, and brought in thousands of dollars and thousands of customers that otherwise would never have booked events at Kasey’s, and wouldn’t have ever even known where they were, much less returned to book more events.

We are blessed and fortunate to have expanded from a modest food truck to a full-service catering company. Not without trial and error — however we always did our best to hold ourselves and our staff accountable to provide better service. We cannot say that The Columbian Club held their staff equally accountable in situations where our staff was disrespected or ignored, resulting in loss of revenue, team members of The Cookout quitting, and patrons informing us that they would not return due to rude comments/slurs and/or altercations, and generally awkward atmosphere set into motion upon entering the building.

In closing, this communication was meant to inform and highlight our egregious disappointment in the way The Columbian Club and Kasey’s Banquet Hall has conducted themselves and the ugly manner in which they have tainted our entire experience with them. We hope that our story will help other small businesses who are trying to grow and prosper not let this happen to them.

We look forward to your thoughts, if any, on this occurrence.

Thank you for your time.

Steve and LaTasha García
The Cookout Caterers
The Cookout On Wheels


Local Voices
Local Voices
Local Voices is The Lansing Journal's version of “Letters to the Editor.” The opinions posted here are those of the writers, and posting them does not indicate endorsement by The Lansing Journal. We welcome input from fellow residents who have thoughtful things to say about topics that are important to our community. Submissions may be sent to [email protected] with “Voices” in the subject line.


  1. Steve,
    No offense and being a Christian woman I don’t like to trash talk others but your wife has been VERY disrespectful to many people. Not to mention she is not at all business appropriate. I know of occasions that she has made employees cry by talking down to them. I’m sure that nobody from the Knights “hates” her, they’re probably just looking out for their best interest. I’m sure better things will come maybe with a change of attitude.

    • Dayna, no offense taken. We were not perfect by no means and we worked to improve that. Business decisions are made and we can respect that but to transition without warning and what I went thru for that facility and what was told to me that’s where my issue is. Thank you Dayna for reading.

  2. Remember, we are not who we are because someone said we are. The only One that knows who we are is God himself, and the only voice that matters. Attitude, shmattitute! God meets us where we are. Consider this a blessing Mr. and Mrs. Garcia and look to the window that God has now opened for only you while closing the door on others. Only He knows your heart and not we ourselves.

    Do it for God. He has wonderful plans for you. Rest in knowing He does.

    To quote Him:
    Isaiah 58:10-12
    10 Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

  3. I am not a Knight but have eaten several times at the Banquet Hall when these cooks provided the food and have never been disappointed. It has always been delicious. As a customer I have never witnessed any display of rudeness towards other employees or customers, actually both husband and wife have been very friendly.
    We stopped eating at the restaurant when the other cook was working because I noticed I developed an upset stomach after every meal I ate there.
    I am very disappointed the Kacey’s are changing cooks and if they go back to the other cook – we won’t be back.

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