Jamrock Cultural Restaurant Finds New Home After Eviction Complicates Business

After being evicted due to serving the food to cars lined up outside his home, the owner and chef said, a Superior bar helped him out.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- A local cook who’s Caribbean food business was sidelined after his landlord evicted him is teaming up with a Superior bar owner to serve his food once again.

Average Joe’s Pub off Hammond Avenue was packed Tuesday evening, but people weren’t just there for a drink — but for Jamrock Cultural Restaurant in the back of the building. “We need this place in the Duluth/Superior area,” said Debra, excited to return to her favorite Jerk Chicken spot.

Jamrock opened for business out of Average Joe’s for the first time Tuesday evening, and within the first 20 minutes a line snaked through the Pub and almost out the door.

“The amount of support that I’ve had from the community from starting street side in front of Spurs in Duluth to the pandemic closing it down and having to serve from the home to the commercial now to Average Joe’s been pretty awesome,” said Antonio O’Neil, owner and chef of Jamrock.

O’Neil started serving his home-style Caribbean food street side for Duluth’s nightlife. The pandemic caused him to secure a food permit and cook from the Business Center off Tower Avenue in Superior, having customers stop their cars outside his house to get their food.

That, he said, is where him and his landlord ran into a disagreement. “He was kind of unhappy with me doing that.”

According to O’Neil, despite the lease not mentioning anything about serving food out of the house, his landlord said he had to go — forcing him to find another place to live and work.

“I have no hard feelings,” O’Neil said. “I’ve just chose not to dwell on the negative aspect of an eviction during the pandemic when I have all these positive doors opening right now.”

One of those positive doors was the door of Average Joe’s Pub. O’Neil said after receiving an outpouring of community support, the owner of the pub invited him to cook out of his kitchen.

“This is super fantastic, so convenient,” said Liz Nelson, checking out Jamrock for the first time. Customers order at the window of the kitchen, and can either take the food to-go or dine inside the pub — now filled with the smell of Jerk Chicken and street corn.

“Everything’s Caribbean-based, Caribbean-infused,” O’Neil said,  “I do take certain dishes and fuse my own take on it, my own style.”

“‘Thank you’ I don’t feel as though gives any justice to the amount of support that I’ve had. I actually look forward to doing more in the community to give back. This has been great the amount of love and support they’ve just uplifted me on,” the chef said.

And community members said they’re just as thankful to have his cultural touch on local cuisine. “I’ve been following him since he opened on Baxter, this is an awesome opportunity for different type of food within the Superior community and Duluth,” said Debra.

And others in the long line to order are anxious to get a taste of a different culture.

“[I] Go to Jamaica every year, enjoying the culinary delights of everything, I love the people,” Nelson said. “I found out that Tony was cooking so I’m bringing it home to my family tonight.”

For Nelson, the little container of food is her own “little bit of slice, of Jamaica,” she said.

For now you can find Jamrock’s menu on their Facebook page. O’Neil and his family said they’re still looking for another place to live, but he said the community is helping them there too.

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