By Brandi Makuski
A long-awaited authentic Jamaican restaurant opened Wednesday.
Shaw’s Jamaican Kitchen brings a little Caribbean flavor to Stevens Point, making its new home in the former location of Marvin’s Restaurant, 2824 Stanley Street.
Susan Shaw and her mother Elsa Wood, both of Stevens Point, are natives of Jamaica and planned to open in the Downtown District, but couldn’t find a space that fit their needs.
“We needed a place with the hood system already installed, because expensive but also very important,” Shaw said on Monday.
Shaw and her family made a splash at last year’s Cultural Fest, held at SPASH, and have kept locals interested with free tastings ever since. She said the family chose the former Marvin’s location a few months ago, and since then have worked to get the place ready for opening day on Oct. 19.
“We redid all the colors [on the wall] to be Jamaican colors, and we’ve got a few more things we’re bringing in to give this place the feel of a real Jamaican restaurant,” Shaw said. “Not the restaurants in Jamaica that are made up for the American tourists.”
Running the restaurant will be a family affair, Shaw said, and will include herself and six siblings, a close family friend and Shaw’s boyfriend, Oneil Hurd.
Shaw said for someone who’s never eaten her native cuisine, she’d describe it as “well-seasoned.”
“I can’t say it’s spicy — we have spicy because I don’t want to scare away customers, but you can have it either way,” she said.
Shaw’s will offer “straight Jamaican” food including jerk chicken and jerk pork, curried goat, pepper steak, goat dishes and oxtails. Vegan and vegetarian options will also be available.
Nearly all the food offered in the restaurant is cooked on a stove top, Shaw added, including various varieites of soup they plan to feature.
“Our soup is way different — it will really fill you up. Everything is in it, dumplings, vegetables, meat — it’s more like stew,” Shaw said.
Shaw and Wood both learned their Jamaican cooking technique and recipe from their respective mothers and grandmothers while living in Jamaica. Wood moved to Stevens Point with her husband in 1993 and Shaw followed with her six siblings in 1999.
“It’s going to be strictly Jamaican,” Wood said. “I’m going to be strictly cooking my Jamaican way.”
The location, ideally, we want to be downtown,” Shaw said, adding there was potential to move in the future. “But the highway is right here, we’ve got the university, we’ve got the hospital, downtown is three minutes away,”
Shaw’s plans to open for breakfast, as well as offer delivery, in the future. The restaurant opens Wed., Oct. 19 at 10:30 AM. For more information, find them on Facebook.