Beloved Sheepshead Bay caterer sees outpouring of community support after Christmas fire

Firefighters battle a three-alarm blaze at Bassett Caterers in Sheepshead Bay on Christmas.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Southern Brooklynites are paying it forward to their beloved Bassett Caterers with donations pouring in to support staff after its headquarters fell victim to a three-alarm fire on Christmas.

The Sheepshead Bay catering company, which has closed its doors indefinitely since the fire, first opened in 1962 and is known for always lending a helping hand to its neighbors — most recently feeding frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“[Bassett] has [helped] feed so many during this horrible time we are going through including our front-line workers,” a neighbor wrote on Facebook.

After the blaze destroyed Bassett Caterer’s Avenue X headquarters, a concerned customer launched an online fundraiser to help support the business’ three owners — who declined to accept the money unless it was distributed to their staff, who the fire rendered unemployed.

“Morning after the fire, owners Russell, James and Frank’s only concern was the well-being of their employees,” wrote the fundraiser’s organizer, Sam Wong. “They are truly great people that are always willing to help anyone in need.”

Within three days, locals donated more than $8,000 to the GoFundMe page, which the caterers said will be divided among the employees that helped make the mom-and-pop business what it is today. 

“To that end, the ‘Go Fund Me Page’ was organized in appreciation of our many employees who are now unemployed and must face the economic challenges ahead,” the catering company wrote on its Facebook page. “For their passion and commitment, we are grateful and any of the money donated will be distributed to our employees.”

Since opening its doors more than half-a-century ago, Bassett Caterers has become a local staple. To this day, it is many southern Brooklynites’ first call for large events, and the impact of their potential loss could be seen all over social media, where mourners flocked to share their thoughts and even offer up their services. 

“I’m so so sorry this happened to you all; Bassett has fed me, my friends and family for decades. As a local mural painter from the neighborhood, when you rebuild/reopen, I would love to paint something for you guys, for the firefighters, for the neighborhood, if you’d like it on the side It would be an honor,” wrote one user. “I’m glad no one was hurt, stay strong, the community loves you!!!!”

The cause of the fire was unknown at the time of the incident and remains under investigation by FDNY fire marshals.