Carican Flavors, a Caribbean restaurant that has enjoyed success in Oklahoma City for the past 13 years, credits its longevity to the fact that the menu retains close ties to the owner’s roots. Sharon McMillan says it is not just about making money, but considers her restaurant “some kind of calling.”
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, McMillan came to the United States when she was 17 years old and originally lived in New York City. She moved to Oklahoma City with her husband in 2000 because they have family there; her cousin, who was in the Air Force, was stationed there.
McMillan has a degree in business and worked in business finance in New York, but she had no previous experience in the restaurant industry. She worked in business finance during her first years in Oklahoma City, but had the idea for the restaurant after she and her husband realized “they were missing something.” They missed the Caribbean food that was available in New York and decided to open a restaurant themselves. McMillan worked with her husband, father, and other relatives to bring the idea to fruition by opening a restaurant that would offer the kinds of foods they cooked at home.
Opening the restaurant was not easy, McMillan said, especially one that was so different from anything else in the area. The family was committed to the effort, however, and McMillan used her experience in the finance business to ensure its fiscal health. The effort paid off, and now the restaurant remains a family affair, with McMillan co-owning it with her husband, while her father helps with the cleaning every night, and her children work various shifts. The food is all homemade Caribbean, featuring dishes like oxtail, goat, and lamb, along with sides of plantain that offer the unique flavors of the islands.
McMillan says her restaurant is still basically “undiscovered” despite its years in business, but she hopes that will change. She wants to develop the business to where it would be possible for her to step back from its daily operations at some time in the future. Until then, she will continue to serve flavors of the Caribbean to landlocked diners in Oklahoma City.
Photo Source: Carican Flavors