As home to hundreds of restaurants, Vacaville has something to satisfy just about every cuisine: Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Indian, Mediterranean, Filipino…the list goes on.
Until recently, one type of cuisine had long been absent from Vacaville’s usual fare: Jamaican.
In 2016, Chantoll Williams established her catering business Mama Rasta’s Kitchen to bring Caribbean flavors to Vacaville, and now the cuisine has its own brick-and-mortar restaurant in the form of Jamrock Island Cuisine in the Alamo Plaza. Founded by Devon Miller and Petrick Green-Miller, Jamrock had its soft opening Dec. 16 and patrons have been getting authentic Jamaican food to go ever since.
While this is the couple’s first time owning a restaurant, they are both well-versed in Jamaican cuisine. Both were born and raised on the island, and Miller has been a chef for 22 years. It was actually while working as a chef in Kingston in 2003 that he met Green-Miller.
“This has always been his dream,” she said.
In 2005, Green-Miller moved to Northern California to take a job at Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo at a time when there was a shortage of nurses.
“I came because of a recruitment,” she said. “They were short of nurses, so I was recruited by a company.”
Green-Miller went on to be hired full time at Sutter, and Miller moved out to California to join her. They bought a home in Vacaville and have since raised twin daughters.
The entire time since moving to Vacaville, the Millers have planned to open a restaurant, and Green-Miller said it has been a challenging process.
“This has probably been a nine-year process for us,” she said. “Putting the business plan together was a challenge, especially in the financial parts of it, but we did get some support from small businesses and feedback in putting that together. Without that, then we couldn’t get a place to rent or anything because landlords and banks would want to see what your business plan was.”
However, Jamrock finally has a home in the Alamo Plaza, sandwiched between Burrito Express and Rose Garden. Green-Miller said the most popular item is the jerk chicken, in which the meat is dry-rubbed with a hot spice blend and slow-cooked to give it a smoky flavor. Other dishes include curried goat, ox tail, brown stew chicken and curry chicken patties. There are also a variety of vegetarian options, including sweet and sour tofu, lentil balls and spinach patties, as well as a variety of sides, including macaroni and cheese, sweet potato salad, rice and peas, and steamed vegetables. Even the drinks have tropical flavors such as mango, pineapple guava and coconut water.
Green-Miller said business has been slow but she attributes that to the holiday season and COVID-19 and expects patronage to pick up around February. So far, she said the response has been very positive.
“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback,” she said. “People like the flavor and the taste, and they like that it’s different. There’s no Jamaican place in Vacaville, so people are excited that they can come and get a little taste of Jamaica here.”
Green-Miller said she is hoping to have a grand opening in early 2021. She is waiting to see if the county changes its guidelines regarding outdoor dining. Jamrock is currently open for takeout, and patrons can schedule to pick up meals in advance through its website. Green-Miller said she is also looking to make the meals available for delivery through DoorDash.
“I want to see how those processes go first and make sure the team is trained and can do that very well before we do the grand open,” she said.
Green-MIller said there are a variety of things she hopes Jamrock can bring to Vacaville.
“I’m hoping to provide authentic Jamaican food,” she said. “We are counter service, so being able to provide something that’s authentic, offer excellent customer service and be very efficient in terms of quick turnaround. People can order their lunch, say what time they want it (and) come pick it up.”
Jamrock is located at 900 Alamo Drive. Its current hours are 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays and closed Saturdays.
For more information, visit Jamrockisland.com or call the restaurant at 342-5674.
This content was originally published here.