Second Annual National Caribbean American Restaurant Week celebrated

Oliver Samuels (center) in discussion with Dominic Christopher (right) and community advocate Ray Martin during launch of National Caribbean American Restaurant Week in June 2021.
Photo by Nelson A. King

The Brooklyn-based Deh Abroad Village and the Caribbean American Restaurant Association (CARA) have launched the Second Annual National Caribbean American Restaurant week from June 12-18.

“The USA is home to more than 523 Caribbean restaurants. From Florida to New York to California, Deh Abroad Village and CARA invite you to bring your appetite to the 2022 National Caribbean American Restaurant Week,” said the groups in a statement.

“Pull up a chair and open your top pants button, we won’t judge! Smoky nutmeg infused jerk chicken will grace your nose as you are courted by oxtail so tender, it’s falling off the bones,” they added. “Inhale the sweet aroma of fried plantains fresh off the skillet.

“Feel the cool refreshing sensation of fresh coconut water washing down your throat, as you slip away onto the islands with the most soothing island beats,” the groups continued. “All of this can be your experience from Jun. 12-18, 2022, at this second staging of Restaurant week.”

Dominic J. Christopher, the Jamaican-born co-founder of Deh Abroad Village, said he’s “seen the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on business owners, especially minority businesses in the food industry.

“This Restaurant Week is special for me, because it gives our community the opportunity to come back stronger and spread our culture to people who will absolutely fall in love with our food,” he said. “Deh Abroad Village is thrilled to be part of this initiative to help build back our businesses stronger than ever.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams noted that the city has the largest population of Caribbean American restaurants in the US, adding that he was “proud” to support to the Second Annual Caribbean American Restaurant Week.

“The COVID-19 pandemic financially hurt many restaurants in NYC, but by supporting Caribbean American Restaurant Week, this is a step towards helping them recover,” he said. “I want to thank Deh Abroad Village and the Caribbean American Restaurant Association for their hard work in organizing and producing restaurant week for the benefit of these restaurants in New York City.”

NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner, Kevin D. Kim said he, too, was “proud” to support National Caribbean Restaurant Week “through our Avenue NYC grant, as we celebrate both Immigrant and Caribbean Heritage this month.

“Mayor Adams is committed to investing in our city’s immigrant-owned small businesses, which make up nearly half of New York City’s small businesses across the five boroughs,” he said. “This event is the perfect way to showcase the diversity and amazing flavors that the Caribbean community brings to the city.”

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said: “As a proud Caribbean-American, a first-generation New Yorker, I’m excited for Caribbean American Restaurant Week, and grateful to Deh Abroad and the Caribbean American Restaurant Association for spearheading this event.

“The pandemic hurt so many restaurants across the city, so I’m grateful for this opportunity to support some of my favorites and potentially introduce some New Yorkers to new dishes,” he said. “The diversity of cultures that the Caribbean represents — from the people to the cuisine to the traditions — is as rich as it has been influential to our city, and I look forward to celebrating Caribbean-American heritage at restaurants this week and throughout the city all month.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr. said: “The great diversity of cultures found in Queens allows our residents and visitors to enjoy a wide variety of delicious foods that come to us from around the world.

“Our borough’s Caribbean restaurants are our key contributors to this vibrant culinary scene, and National Caribbean American Restaurant Week is a great time for all of us to enjoy what these fine establishments have to offer,” he said. “I encourage everyone to patronize these great restaurants during National Caribbean American Restaurant Week and throughout the year.”

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, said: “Every year, I look forward to the world-renowned Caribbean cuisine that will be highlighted during The Caribbean American Restaurant Association’s Caribbean Restaurant Week.

“Not only will there be a myriad of delicious food to choose from, but this is also an opportunity to highlight small Caribbean-owned businesses and support their economic recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “As a Jamaican-American woman, I take great pride in my heritage and understand the illustrious legacy of how Black and Caribbean culture contributed and continues to contribute to this country’s culinary identity.

“Our people took scraps and the undesired, and created delicacies,” she added. “We created art from ugly and cultivated nourishment from deprivation. That is why weeks like this are so important; we must not only support our Caribbean restaurants but also preserve the rich cultural legacy that is our food.

“Happy Caribbean American Heritage Month, and Happy Caribbean Restaurant Week,” Clarke continued. “Be sure to save me a plate!”