Papa's Got Jerk is an authentic Jamaican Restaurant, the 1st one in southern Utah in fact! Located in sunny St. George, Papa's Got Jerk is set to open in early November. Growing from catering and participating in festivals, owner Cheryl Ashcraft is now excited to open her first brick-and-mortar shop at the Shoppes at Zion. Keep reading to learn more about Cheryl's inspiration for opening Papa's Got Jerk, her can't-miss menu items, and more.
UMLF: What inspired you to open Papa’s Got Jerk?
Cheryl: When I immigrated from Jamaica, West Indies to New York City as a young child, cooking my favorite Jamaican dishes was one of the ways I felt close to home. My Jamaican roots ran deep and are very dear to my heart. My dad recognized my love of cooking and encouraged that love by spending a lot of time sharing family recipes with me. From a very young age, I have always wanted to own a restaurant. In my adult life, I remember telling my dad that when my kids are all grown up, I would love to fulfill that dream of being a business owner and my very own restaurant. Just before my dad passed in early 2012, he told me to not put my dream of opening a restaurant on hold anymore. He told me, "you know the saying...when you do what you love you will never work another day in your life". So, in December of 2012 with the support of my children, I decided it was time to expand my kitchen. I began catering events and attending local festivals in the St. George area in honor of my dad.
UMLF: For those new to authentic Jamaican cuisine, what can people expect? (Flavors, highlights, etc.)
Cheryl: Jamaican cuisine is a culinary melting pot that reflects the cultures that have influenced the island over the centuries. Every dish is flavourful and highlights the amazing spices grown on our very own island. If you appreciate a savory flavorful meal, your mouth will thank you when you sit down for a Jamaican meal.
In a typical Jamaican restaurant, one can expect bright colors of green, yellow and black on the walls and the furniture representing the country's colors. However, at Papa's Got Jerk the atmosphere will be subtle and modern featuring a gallery wall highlighting my country's history with splashes of Jamaican colors and artifacts.
UMLF: What are some of your can’t miss menu items?
Cheryl: Just about all of Papa's Got Jerk menu items is a can't miss item. However, if you are an adventurer and enjoy a little spicy flavor, then you MUST try the Jerk Chicken plate. And if you are on the milder side of the spices, then most definitely the Brown Stew Chicken.
My most favorite meal is the Curry Goat served over Rice & Peas (Jamaicans call all types of beans, peas :-) )with a side of steamed cabbage & carrots. Stew Peas & Rice is my 2nd most favorite.
Who am I kidding, I love and recommend it all. There is something for every spice dare-devils out there and not so much dare-devil.
UMLF: Besides dine-in we know you also offer meal prep and catering. Tell us more about this.
Cheryl: So, we are actually limited to dine-in seating and are more on the take out and dine in the courtyard outdoor seating area side. So, the meal prep plan was created for the busy on the go person/family. As a single mom for many years, meal prepping was my saving grace and my kids were not fans of food that was pre-cooked and bland. Most often meal prep meals are flavorless and bland. Why not have delicious Jamaican meals everyday! The meal prep plans vary from 1 meal per day or 2 meals per day for an entire week.
Catering - Have a feast without the fuss, just put it on us! We cater all events, weddings, anniversaries, office parties, etc. along with the option of buffet style or guest service.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as an entrepreneur and how you overcame it?
Papa's Got Jerk has definitely experienced highs and lows on many different levels. Being a black woman in Utah has had its challenges over the years in itself. But when I became a business owner, those challenges as a black woman were even more noticeable.
I was told by my parents, I was always stubborn as a child and apparently as an adult my stubborn traits kicked in when faced with challenges. I always, always held my head high and viewed every obstacle or challenge as a character building experience. Nothing ever slows me down and I look at and embrace my challenges as an opportunity for growth. I love giving people opportunities for growth by educating them about me and what my intentions are as a business owner, not as a black woman business owner.
UMLF: How do you feel like the Utah Microloan Fund has helped your business?
UMLF has given Papa's Got Jerk an opportunity to maintain its financial obligations and has allowed Papa's Got Jerk to grow as a company.
To stay in touch with Papa's Got Jerk visit:
Located at The Shoppes at Zion: 250 Red Cliffs Drive, Suite 16B St. George UT 84790