Restaurant is part of huge vision to help transform area much in need of economic development
CHICAGO–Delicious cuisine is just part of the equation for the Bronzeville Jerk Shack. “It’s about cuisine, conservation and culture,” said Bernard Loyd, an engineer, businessman, and community resident, who left corporate America to become a social entrepreneur in his community.
BeanSoupTimes.com, as part of a business Empowerment Experiment luncheon recently, went on a tour of the facility that houses The Bronzeville Jerk Shack, located at 5055 S. Prairie, just steps away from the 51st Street Green Line CTA Station and two blocks west of Washington Park.
Luncheon attendees had a choice of jerk chicken or pork, plaintains, fried plantains, Jamaican fruit cake, tropical fruit salad, homemade sorrel and limeade. The jerk chicken was perfectly seasoned and the meat was tender. The plaintains were sweet and fried to perfection, soft with a light crunch.
The restaurant gives a feel of authentic Jamaican restaurants that adorn the roads in Jamaica, explains Loyd. And Jerk cuisine is just the beginning of a vision that began some ten plus years ago.
Loyd hopes the development of the restaurant and facility and the vision will be a much needed economic boost to the area. And he’s not just talking.
His vision is to use food as a platform for re-development of the Bronzeville community, to create a Black version of the vibrant food destinations we know as Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy he explained during the tour.
That vision, called Bronzeville Cookin’ is a unique dining destination and culinary incubator celebrating the cuisines, cultures, and communities of peoples of African descent in the facility, he explained. Urban Juncture, Inc. is the umbrella for several initiatives which they believe will create 70 full-time positions before 2016 ends.
Four distinctive, locally-owned and operated restaurants will share a sustainably-rehabilitated, turn-of-the century building in the heart of the historic Bronzeville community, explained Loyd. Much of the building that remained solid was salvaged and many parts were repurposed into furniture and fixtures.
Each venue will highlight a different aspect of Black cuisine, one of the world’s richest. Already planned is a vegetarian restaurant and a smoothie bar. Bronzeville Cookin’ will also include a market designed to expand access to fresh produce and a rooftop farm that will add to locally-sourced offerings, he added.
For more information about the restaurant, visit www.bronzevillejerkshack.com. To get more information about the big picture, visit www.urbanjuncture.com.
(Originally published in BeanSoupTimes.com)