Jerk Shop Go is opening in the White Oaks Mall food court on Feb. 8, but fans of the Carribean cuisine will still be able to patronize the original downtown location as well.
“The move to White Oaks Mall is an expansion,” said owner Kadejia Berkley. “We’re hoping to introduce our brand to a new group of customers on the west side of town.” She noted that not everyone visits the downtown area.
Last March, right before the pandemic put an end to indoor dining, Jerk Shop Go opened in the space at 213 N. Fifth St. that was previously occupied by Taste of Jamaica. The small space only has four tables, and Berkley said, “Opening right before the quarantine helped us develop a business model that was based on carryout and curbside service.”
Berkley is no stranger to the restaurant industry. A triplet, she originally lived in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago and her family opened a restaurant there in 2014. Along with her sisters, Kendra and Kenya, Berkley later attended Western Illinois University and the three young entrepreneurs opened a restaurant in Macomb after finding that the dining options near campus were limited.
That location closed after the sisters graduated in 2019, and Berkley moved to Springfield to start an internship at the Statehouse. In the meantime, the sisters focused on retail sales and were able to get their products placed in a number of grocery and convenience stores across the Midwest, including several locations in Springfield. But when Berkley had a chance to open another restaurant, she said she couldn’t pass it up.
Now she hopes that adding a second location will expand the reach of Jerk Shop Go.
“We’re just realizing how many people haven’t heard of us yet,” she said.