The Irie Jamaican Kitchen restaurant in Euclid, Ohio, is relatively new, but owner and chef Omar McKay is already planning to expand to a second location. Since its opening in February 2017, Irie Jamaican Kitchen has been an adventure for McKay, who has seen his 14-month-old restaurant evolve from a spot at the food court in the Richmond Town Square mall where he served spicy Jamaican street fare. McKay, who became concerned as he watched many of the mall’s stores close. had already planned to move to another location. When the Macy’s store closed, McKay viewed it as a sign. He wanted to stay in Richmond Heights because he lives there, but could not find a suitable location. Then he received news from a loyal customer about a vacant place formerly occupied by T.B. Hot Dogs and Hoagies. After some remodeling and adding some equipment to the kitchen, McKay’s new Irie Jamaican Kitchen restaurant was ready to open in just four months. He acknowledged that opening a restaurant is always a risk, as is starting over. “Many people opening restaurants learn that the hard way. There’s more to a business venture than just throwing money at it,” he said, adding that the new neighborhood has worked out well, being very diverse with high traffic and diners from a wide geographical area. He finds that encouraging as the area already has dining spots that specialize in Caribbean cuisine. The success of Irie Jamaican Kitchen has prompted McKay to plan for another location on the West Side in the near future. McKay, 39, is from Jackson Town, Trelawny, in Jamaica and a graduate of Tri-C’s Culinary Arts Program. He has been in the restaurant business since the age of 16, working at country clubs and hotels. With his Irie Jamaican Kitchen, McKay says he has found his niche and is trying to create his brand. There is no authentic Jamaica cuisine available on the West Side, he said, stating that his next location will cover some 1,200 square feet, compared to just 750 square feet at the present venue. It is his provision of traditional Jamaican entrees and “the freedom of choice” that McKay believes sets him apart from his competitors. In a review on their facebook page Steven Kutash said this:
Tried Irie Jamacian Kitchen today and wow is it incredible! The Jerk Chicken is amazing and has so much flavor. If your reading this and have not tried Irie Jamacian Kitchen yet you need to get there ASAP. What a hidden gem!
Photo Source: Facebook