Clouds of thick, scented smoke emanated from the grill outside of Jamaican D’s as jerk chicken cooked along the sidewalk. The small eatery is nestled between the shops along Chelten Avenue by Wister Street.
Owner of Jamaican D’s, Dave Dawes, is proud of his business and the atmosphere that has surrounded it for the past three years. “We try to draw people in by doing that stuff,” Dawes said.
The jerk chicken lures hungry customers in, where they then discover the rest of the authentic Portland Parish, Jamaican menu. Dawes has been living in the United States for the past nine years. “Most of the food is pretty standard Jamaican stuff, but we started our own little way of doing things here, and we kept working on it until our customers liked it,” he said.
In the time since, Dawes has also invested in a food truck, bearing the Jamaican D’s brand name, that serves the area near the Community College of Philadelphia. “We’ve been noticing an improvement in the number of customers coming in here these past couple of months, but when the weather gets nice we will get more people in,” Dawes said.
Sonya Partley, a native of St. Catherine, Jamaica, loves the jerk chicken at Jamaican D’s. “This is the best place for Jamaican food that I’ve found since being here,” Partley said. Partley said she frequents the restaurant at least three times a month; she loves the good food and great service she receives. “The oxtail, jerk chicken, and mac and cheese are my favorites,” she said.
“We have five employees here, and we work hard to keep the food coming out fresh,” Dawes said. “We come in everyday, take the food out of the refrigerator, and get to cooking,” he added. “That’s ‘Little Dave’,” Dawes said, pointing to his 5-year-old son, Dave Dawes Jr., who was eating in the restaurant at the time. “He’s going to be the future of Jamaican D’s,” Dawes said, proudly.