A 2020 survey released by the Restaurant Association showed that nationally, about one in six restaurants — representing nearly 100,000 restaurants — closed either permanently or long-term during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last summer, at the height of the health crisis, when New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo put a halt on all entertainment events, Blue and Bougie party promoter Jamaican Jerry McDonald was on the lookout for opportunity in the food industry.
Four months into the crisis, McDonald, who in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica and currently resides in Connecticut, was presented with an opportunity to purchase a struggling restaurant in the Bronx.
McDonald said he took the plunge, and, on Dec. 1, 2020, he became the proud owner of the brand name Coffee Bay Restaurant, at 3431 Eastchester Rd., the Bronx.
“It was a risk I was willing to take,” McDonald told Caribbean Life. “This pandemic won’t last forever; so, I gambled with the idea to launch my restaurant against the odds. That is how I have lived all my life.
McDonald, a school teacher and marketer by profession, said he had acquired some experience in the restaurant business a few years earlier.
An entrepreneur at heart, he said he had the full desire now to run his own business.
“I huddled with my family and got their advice,” McDonald said. “I also spoke with everyone I knew in the restaurant industry. After doing some research, I quit my full-time job to make Coffee Bay Restaurant a reality.”
Today, McDonald said Coffee Bay has thrived, despite COVID restrictions, which have caused some local eateries to close their doors.
Asked what has contributed to the success of the Bronx based Coffee Bay, the former teacher said: “Coffee Bay is more than a restaurant. It is a movement.
“I crafted Coffee Bay into a full-fledged restaurant and coffee house all in one spot, with a retro Caribbean style decor that sets it apart from all others,” he said. “Our slogan is ‘food and culture,’ because we are not just about food but the experience.
“Plus, we have the best customer service ever,” he added. “We are truly taking the Jamaican/Caribbean culture to the world, and we are winning.”
The take-out only restaurant is open for business from 7:00 am. to 9:30 pm. Mondays to Saturdays.
McDonald said the breakfast menu includes ackee and saltfish (Jamaica’s national dish), roast breadfruit, callaloo, omelet and pancakes.
For dinner, tantalizing, mouthwatering Jamaican/Caribbean dishes, specially prepared by the in-house chef, includes signature items like coffee salmon; shrimp espresso; garlic wings; sizzling, spiced jerked chicken; curry goat; and oxtail.
McDonald said he also serves coffee lemonade and coffee smoothie.
On Sunday, he said the restaurant sells various flavors of ice cream.
“Coffee Bay’s uniqueness is having a coffee shop and restaurant under one umbrella,” McDonald said. “We have also created that Devon House Ice Cream vibe on Sundays, and customers are loving it.”
“I have to give big kudos to my family, friends and, most importantly, the Eastchester and West Indian community, who have been extremely supportive from day one,” he added. “They have supported the restaurant and make up a majority of our clientele.”
McDonald can be reached at: (347)-341-5579; IG: @coffeebayrestaurant;
website: www.coffeebayrestaurant.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/coffeebayrestaurant; twitter: @coffeebayrestaurant; or via email: [email protected]