A £100,000 Caribbean restaurant business is set to bring a little bit of paradise to Plymouth – and perhaps also the rest of the region, and even the country, too.
Plymouth entrepreneur Richard Dyer is the motivation behind the new Soul Food Vendor Jamaican food and cocktail outlet in the West End of Plymouth’s city centre.
The licensed diner will be serving up the likes of jerk chicken, curry goat, handmade steak burgers and vegan/vegetarian dishes to tantalise Plymothians’ palates.
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And Mr Dyer, who has created 10 jobs at his new eatery, is already eyeing expanding the brand wider.
“I want to open more of these up and down the country,” the 35-year-old said. ”I’d like to open in Cornwall, particularly on the beaches, and Exeter, Bristol and London. Hopefully this will be the first of many.”
“I want to put Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine on the map, a place where everyone can have a taste of paradise.”
Along with his managers Jade Lavers and Ederveral Ferreira he unleashed the business as a small diner inside Plymouth Market in February 2020.
Just over a month later and the country was pitched into the fist of three Covid lockdowns. It meant months without trading before Soulfood Trader was able to start operating as a takeaway only operation.
That was so successful that Mr Dyer and his team started work on the next phase of the business’ development – the launch of a full restaurant.
Keeping the unit inside the market, the Soulfood team took a unit on the outside, linked the two, created a new office and second kitchen and began the expansion.
“We were gutted in lockdown,” Mr Dyer said. “So we took a risk. We didn’t know when lockdown would end, but decided that we could offer something different, something fresh, when it did.”
Opening the new outlet to the public on Wednesday, June 30, the new restaurant has seating, when social distancing rules are ditched, for 26 inside and 18 outside, with space for 16 diners by the indoor market entrance.
The overall investment was in the region of £100,000 and has been paid for without recourse to a loan, Mr Dyer using capital from his other business, successful cleaning firm Non Stop Cleaning, which has been inundated with work during the lockdown year.
Much of the eye-catching decor is thanks to the work of Miss Lavers’ father Alan Lavers and artist Jon Lilly.
Mr Dyer now needs to start generating cash to justify the expenditure, and is confident Soulfood Vendor will be a hit, with its bright and attractive decor, and equally attractive menu including cocktails for the adults and a special menu for children.
“There are not many places offering cocktails in the West End,” My Dyer said. “The whole idea is to be versatile, something that has not been done before. And it is not fast food, it is a restaurant, everything is made in here, and made fresh.”
And there are plans to add more attractions, including fish dishes, cakes and bakes, and even live music events.
Taking a step back from day-to-day running of the restaurant, it will be managed by Miss Levers, with the kitchen under management of Mr Ferreira.
And Miss Lavers said: “I can’t wait for it to open and want people to have that vibe again. And we are looking at a once-a-month music event. Something new every now and then.”
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