• Katie Bellinger

Debunking A Few Jamaican Restaurant Stereotypes

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Starting a Jamaican restaurant in the US is nothing new, it's been done time and time again by Jamaican immigrants or admirers of the culture looking to replicate that quintessential island vibe abroad.

So, it is natural that the stereotypes applied to Jamaica and Jamaicans around the world is also applied to Jamaican restaurants everywhere.

Here are a few popular Jamaican restaurant stereotypes and how we debunk or address them through our business strategy:

Jamaican Food Recipes are Set in Stone

Jerk Chicken is one of Jamaica's most popular exports, so it is natural for everyone to think that Jamaican food in general is naturally spicy, but this is not the case. Many Jamaican dishes like Oxtail are savory stews or curries with a hint of spice, but nothing crazy to knock you out.

Debunked: Our menu is a combination of spicy and savory to help newcomers better understand our cuisine and the different flavor profiles.

All Employees in a Jamaican Restaurant Must be from Jamaica

This is one of the most ridiculous stereotypes, but it is also understandable. With Jamaican food being very popular in states like New York and Florida where there is a heavy Jamaican immigrant population, of course, finding Jamaican employees is a breeze.

However, when you have taken Jamaican food beyond those areas and to places like California where a core Jamaican population is almost non-existent, how can you expect all restaurant employees to be of Jamaican descent?

Debunked: That's like saying Chipotle should only hire people born in Mexico and Chick-Fil-A only hire people who were born in the US. It is 2020, and inclusivity in the workplace is a major talking point and movement.

It is ignorant and close-minded to think that a Jamaican restaurant hiring a Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic person is going against their cultural roots. Once someone is skilled to fit a role and has the necessary experience, they're employable and welcome at JamaFo Food Brands.

Bad Customer Service

It is almost a rule of thumb that when you step in a Jamaican restaurant you'll be greeted by an angry man or woman behind the counter with no manners.

Are they just having a bad day or not interested in conversation? Maybe!

But we want to change that perception.

Debunked: This is why we ensure all our Team Members have quality customer service experience and are trained on the importance of valuing customer interaction.

You've chosen to spend your hard earned money with us out of the many options available and we appreciate it 100%. Hence, we highlight this in the service we offer, treating each customer with respect and giving positive vibes.

Always Running Out of Something

It is standard for Jamaican restaurants to be out of a few items throughout the day or most by the end of the day. This is more fact than a stereotype as it's understandable that a restaurant will run out of an item at one point or another.

How we address it: We're always working on our food supply chain to ensure we have items in stock. However, with our business heavily focused on delivery, takeout and off-premise dining fueled by data, we can easily see which items perform better on which days and optimize our kitchen output to match that.

This lowers food wastage but also ensures that 9/10 times we'll have most or all the items on our menu available. Another strategy we also use to combat this is having a very simplified menu. Currently our menu boasts about 10 main entree items, which makes it easier to produce and keep proper inventory.

Slow service

Jamaican restaurants by tradition and set up aren't fast food establishments, so a little wait time should be expected.

We've been guilty of this before, with wait times reaching over an hour or more during peak times due to insane order volume.

Every restaurant does their best to avoid this, as no one wants a customer to be waiting even more than 10 minutes.

How we address it: We are constantly working on improving our internal processes so your order is produced faster and error-free.

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