Island Grill opens downtown Kgn amidst economic slump

Business reporter

Friday, July 03, 2020

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Amidst the uncertainty and economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Island Grill yesterday officially opened a new restaurant at King Street, downtown Kingston, a $100-million investment bringing to 17 the number of restaurants in the Jamaican chain.

According to Denise Dubuque-Lyn, chief operating officer, plans were already underway before the COVID-19 outbreak to open the new restaurant, even though the chain was forced to temporarily close four locations.

“We had started planning this the third week of January and we have paid for all the equipment, so by the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, the contractor was almost done with the project. Downtown has been a great community to move into, and we heard the comments from people passing by as we were putting up the signs. It's as if they were saying, 'Wow, Island Grill is coming to us during COVID-19 time',” Dubuque-Lyn told the Jamaica Observer before the opening ceremony which was attended by business and civic leaders and special invitees Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica Laurie Peters.

She added that in the interest of safety for staff and customers, Island Grill will only facilitate take-out orders until further notice, despite the Government easing COVID-19 restrictions to allow dining at restaurants, effective yesterday.

Moved to tears, Chief Executive Officer and Founder Thalia Lyn attributed the successful opening to her team, which she fondly referred to as her “gems”.

“Today is the first day that I am coming into this store. Usually when a store is being built I'm there but I couldn't come because I wasn't allowed outside the house,” Lyn said, referring to her observing the Government's stay-at-home protocol implemented to protect the country's more vulnerable citizens from the virus.

“We're overwhelmed by the support that we have gotten,” Lyn said and praised her team for consistent high health inspection ratings. “So I can't stop saying how proud I am of all of them.”

Prime Minister Holness also applauded Island Grill on the opening of the new restaurant.

“Businesses are closing, people are being laid off, investors are making decisions to put off their investments but here is Thalia Lyn going against the wave and taking a risk. Opening her store here even though she had to close others and employing people. That is what gives me the greatest thrill in being here,” Holness stated.

The prime minister reiterated his call for the private sector to proceed with construction plans despite the economic downturn.

Island Grill, which was founded in 1991, will this Sunday be introducing chicken nuggets and three new sauces — Scotch Bonnet, creamy curry, and Thai chilli — to its already extensive menu, in an effort to enhance customer experience.

“[We are] trying to ensure we have adequate value options for our customers. The sauces, we believe, will help to make the experience special in an Island Grill way. The people we've tested with, me included, love the sauces with everything,” Dubuque-Lyn stated.

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