Downtown Springfield is getting a new restaurant, as a familiar name prepares to move into the space at 213 S. Fifth St. formerly occupied by JoJo’s Street Quisine.
Taste of Jamaica, which was a regular booth in the Ethnic Village at the Illinois State Fair for many years, is now opening a year-round location. Owner Joan Thomas said, “I’m originally from Jamaica but have lived in the U.S. since 1974. My mother and I started out at the State Fair more than 26 years ago.”
Thomas and her mother stopped running Taste of Jamaica at the fair in 2009 due to family obligations, but Thomas says she always hoped to open a restaurant someday. “My mother passed away in 2010, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and now I’ve found the right location.”
She is keeping the same name for the business, and hopes her previous customers will recognize it. “It will be a simple menu at first,” she said. “I’ll have jerk chicken with Jamaican rice and peas, plantains and curry chicken as the specialty items. I’m also going to bring some jerk chicken and jerk pork tacos, and Jamaican beef patties, which Springfield hasn’t seen yet.”
Thomas plans to open on Dec. 26 and serve lunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday through Friday plus evening hours on Friday and Saturday to cater to the downtown nightlife crowd. “As time goes on, I’m sure people will come in and request certain items,” she said. “I’ll wait and see what the demand is.”