There’s a lot of jerk chicken in Joseph Kabre’s future. It’s the most popular dish at Jamaican and African Cuisine, the restaurant he manages. On a typical day, he has enough ready to serve a couple dozen people.
But Saturday, March 4, he’s hoping for potentially four times that many customers to show up hungry for the spicy dish. It will take him two days to prepare enough. The chicken has to be smoked, seasoned correctly, and then finished out in the oven. Pressed for details of the process, he deflects with a laugh like any good cook would and then protests, “No, that’s my secret!”
Despite its delicious menu offerings and unique niche in Jackson’s food scene, Jamaican and African Cuisine has struggled to find a consistent customer base since opening less than a year ago. That’s why Kevin Adelsberger chose it for Jackson’s first ever “Cash Mob.”
The goal is to support local independent restaurants with an influx of business that will hopefully turn into a steady stream.
“If 100 people show up, which would be amazing, and eighty of them have a really good time, and fifty of them love the food, then they’re going to tell all their friends,” Kevin said. “That’s going to be enough to give [Joseph] a bump and make him successful.”
Kevin believes more people in the community would frequent Jamaican and African Cuisine if they had a chance to fall in love with the food. When he went for the first time, he was skeptical of the jerk chicken because he typically steers clear of spicy food. But after a few bites, he was hooked.
“I’ve eaten it way too much since then,” he admitted. “I think I had it three times in one week once.”
“This is Kevin’s way to keep his favorite jerk chicken place in business as long as possible so that he can continue to eat jerk chicken,” his wife Renae said as she laughed.
Kevin didn’t disagree.
“That’s not untrue,” he said with a smile. “But a rising tide floats all boats. The more places we have that are unique, and the more people are going to want to come here, and stay here, and help keep making our city great.”
He started a Facebook group, Cash Mob Jackson, that has grown from 40 to 496 members. He’s asking everyone who plans to come for an RSVP as soon as possible so that Joseph has a week to prepare.
The menu will be limited that day, and seating is limited as well, so Kevin is recommending that most people order their food to-go. He’s also asking for customers to refrain from using coupons because a flood of discounted orders could actually end up hurting Joseph’s business.
Joseph said he was excited for more people to try his food. Running the restaurant is something he’s passionate about, and he loves hearing that customers enjoyed their meals.
“It’s very, very exciting when someone comes in and tells you they love your food,” he said.
If the first Cash Mob goes well on March 4, Kevin is hoping to have one each season. He already has ideas in mind for the summer and fall.
“It’s a way for us to put our money where our mouth is when we say we want to support local restaurants,” he said. “This just comes from a deep seated desire to help the community and help small businesses succeed.”
Emily Littleton is a student Union University studying journalism and history. She also freelances for The Jackson Sun. Though originally from Knoxville, she gladly calls Jackson home now.