Since coming to Newcastle, Keleen Watson and Peter Ebanks haven’t at all times discovered it simple to find Jamaican sauces and seasonings to organize their favourite dishes. Earlier than opening their very own enterprise, J & J Jamaican Grocery and Reward Store, the couple often traveled to specialty markets in Portland, Lewiston, and Boston to select up merchandise that Lincoln County lacked.
“We have now such a colourful number of flavors and elements in Jamaica that Lincoln County deserves to style,” stated Ebanks, co-owner of J & J Jamaican Grocery and Reward Store.
With the pandemic proscribing journey, Ebanks and Watson hope prospects can discover the world of Jamaica with out leaving Lincoln County.
“We’re bringing individuals on a Jamaican staycation,” Ebanks stated.
Ebanks and Watson opened the grocery and reward store at 88 Fundamental St. in Damariscotta, in an area above and behind the brand new location of Greatest Thai, on March 1.
“Since opening our doorways, we’ve been so warmly welcomed by the neighborhood,” Watson stated. “Everybody has been so curious to strive our merchandise.”
The Jamaican flags on the railing exterior and colourful lanterns within the window distinguish the store. Inside, the cabinets are lined with an intensive assortment of Jamaican dry items, seasonings, jerk spices, canned vegatables and fruits, sugar cane, and several other kinds of citrus soda. The products differ from acquainted to unique.
Ting, a mushy drink constructed from a focus of Jamaican grapefruit, is a kind of gadgets not simply discovered exterior a Jamaican neighborhood. “It’s a favourite, particularly among the many college students that are available in after college,” Watson stated.
Watson and Ebanks supply most of their merchandise from Caribbean Alternative and Varieties LLC, a Boston-based distributor specializing in Caribbean and African meals.
Reward gadgets, together with T-shirts, hats, and handmade jewellery, get shipped from Watson’s grandmother in Jamaica.
Ebanks and Watson stated that with elements discovered of their retailer, prospects can simply put together the preferred Jamaican dishes, equivalent to jerk rooster, beef patties, goat meat and curry, and oxtails.
“Jamaican recipes are so easy to create,” Ebanks stated. “Onion, garlic, pepper, and salt are the staples to our dishes. You don’t need to be knowledgeable chef to organize a really conventional Jamaican meal.”
Whereas prospects can purchase the whole lot they should create a Jamaican meal at house, Watson and Ebanks hope to ultimately supply home-cooked samples of Jamaican staples, equivalent to jerk rooster on sliders, salt fish on crackers, and thinly sliced pork.
“Ultimately, I’d like to grill Jamaican jerk rooster, oxtails, beef patties proper exterior the storefront,” Ebanks stated. “I’d grill on a wood-fired charcoal grill, with reggae music taking part in within the background, simply how we do it in Jamaica.”
Within the meantime, Watson posts recipes on the shop’s Fb web page for well-liked Jamaican dishes that may be ready with elements within the retailer, equivalent to ackee and salt fish, Jamaica’s nationwide dish. Watson plans to create and promote a Jamaican cookbook within the retailer.
Ebanks grew up in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, whereas Watson grew up in Hanover, on the northwest a part of the island nation.
Ebanks stated he realized the best way to prepare dinner from his mom, however began his skilled culinary profession in a Sandals resort in Jamaica. After 5 years there, Ebanks moved to Florida, the place he labored as a chef on luxurious cruise ships. He then cooked on the Pelican Bay Basis, a luxurious neighborhood in Naples, Fla., for seven years.
Co-workers on the Pelican Bay Basis related Ebanks to King Eider’s Pub, the place he landed a job as a prepare dinner. He moved to Newcastle, adopted quickly after by Watson and their first little one, Jhady.
Ebanks and Watson now reside in Newcastle with their 13-year-old daughter, Jhady, and 6-year-old son, Jhay, each of whom attend Nice Salt Bay Group College in Newcastle. They named the shop after their kids.
Ebanks nonetheless cooks at King Eider’s Pub and infrequently works for the house owners’ catering firm, Stone Cove Catering. Watson works at Greatest Thai two days every week.
“It’s a hustle to run our personal enterprise and work on the eating places, however I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I finished working,” Ebanks stated.
The uncertainty of beginning a primary enterprise throughout a pandemic didn’t cease Ebanks and Watson from opening. “You need to face the challenges that life presents to you,” Ebanks stated. “You need to adapt and transfer ahead.”
J & J Jamaican Grocery and Reward Store is open from 10 a.m. to six p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to three:30 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to three:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to six p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. For extra info, name 563-6652 or discover the store on Fb.