The owners of Yogi Lala Jewelers on Steinway Street weren't about to let a little thing like a 10-day-long blackout keep them from helping their customers to fulfill some long-held plans for their personal lives. J.T. Lakhati, co-owner of the jewelry store at 30-07 Steinway St., came in twice while power was off at the store and in the surrounding neighborhood to retrieve wedding rings and engagement sets two customers had ordered so scheduled festivities could proceed.
The first customer to receive J.T. Lakhati's brand of personal service had patronized the store for some 10 years before moving to New Jersey. When the need for wedding rings arose, he came back to Astoria to select from the wide range of choices at Yogi Lala. This, according to Lakhati, who with his father, Larry Lakhati, owns and operates the store, was some five months before the blackout hit. When the big day that the rings were needed drew near, parts of Queens along with Astoria had been plunged into sweltering darkness by the failure of the power grid that serves the five neighborhoods.
"The customer drove in from New Jersey to get the rings," Lakhati said. "He'd been stuck in traffic for two hours-a lot of the traffic lights in this area were out. But one of the most important days in his life was coming up. He had to have those rings.” The store had no working lights and the alarm system was inoperable. Armed only with a flashlight, Lakhati opened the store and on the first try found the rings in one of the store's three safes. Lakhati took the rings, some four blocks away from the store, where he met the customer and gave him the rings. "He was very happy," Lakhati said.
The second customer to call upon Lakhati's ring retrieving skills was half of a couple who "had been together a long time" and had got their marriage license only the previous week. "They had big plans for the weekend-either the man was proposing or they were having the ceremony, I don't know which," Lakhati said. "Whatever it was, they needed the rings and I went and got them. They (the couple) were very appreciative."
Lakhati downplayed his part in both incidents. "The day a man proposes and the day a woman gets married are two of the most important days in anyone's life," he said. "Anything I can do to help people along, I will."
Yogi Lala carries a complete line of jewelry and accessories, including gold and silver rings, wedding sets, watches, earrings, bracelets, birthstone rings, class rings and accessories. In business since 1978, the store also designs settings for loose diamonds to the customer's specifications and does jewelry repairs. They do babies' ear piercing and unisex piercing for all ages.