Bernice Wilson-Bankston is well known by the title Queen B in Springfield, Illinois.  She was born in Chicago, Ill, and had 9 siblings.  She moved to Springfield when she was 21 years old and has lived here ever since.

Bernice was raised by her aunt, Florence Bean, until the age of 18.  She has 4 children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Her motivation to cook came from a desire to eat good food.  She learned how to prepare delicious dishes by trial and error.  She used the old school method - seasoning with a little dab of this and a little dab of that. 

In the beginning, cooking outside

She began working in food service in Springfield in the 60s.  She worked at the St. Nicholas Hotel with some of the great chefs; George Bauer, Peter Duer, and others.   During her tenure at the St. Nicholas Hotel, she learned some of the finer cooking techniques and she polished her cooking skills.  She cooked for many of the legislators.  Many of the legislators came to the St. Nicholas Hotel and she especially remembers Senator Paul Powell and Senator Cecil Partee.

Queen B with staff

During her first entrepreneurial venture, she began by baking various cakes and pies.  She married Thomas Anderson Sr., who owned a liquor store in Springfield, and she began cooking to help make ends meet.  Eventually, she started Queen B’s Barbeque in 1976.

She began Queen B’s Catering in 1982 and the rest is history.  For over 40 years, Queen B has been providing delicious meals for functions, legislatures, and churches. 

For the AAHM, she catered our reception for over 400 people when the Tuskegee Airmen (Red Tail) exhibit was brought to Springfield.  Each year she catered lunch for the Museum’s summer camp.  When the children were asked about their favorite part of the camp, everyone said lunch.

Bernice Bankston catered a function for Senator Hunter

Bernice Bankston with Frank McNeil

Over the years she has catered functions for the annual Illinois Black Caucus event, the We Care Program at Calvary Baptist Church, the Overcomers Program for Abundant Faith Christian Center, the International Frontier’s Annual Golf outing, Senator Mattie Hunter, Faith Coalition, Alderpersons Lakeisha Purchase and Roy Williams and most recently the Black Catholic Commission of the Dioceses of Springfield.

Currently Queen B has five staff that work with her on a regular basis.  If you have not had an opportunity to taste her delicious dishes, you have definitely missed  a special delicacy.

Ms. Bankston owns and operates the oldest African American female business in Springfield, IL.  This makes her our Local History Maker.

If you want to delight your tastebuds by eating some of the best catered food in the city, contact Queen B’s at 217-415-1496.

Nell R. Clay