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Jamaican drive thru is Caribbean with a southern twist

5:32 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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You can experience the taste of the Caribbean here in East Tennessee at a Jamaican restaurant in Maryville.

Just don't confuse the drive thru with a fast food place. They don't get in a hurry at "Rocky's Jamaica Sunrise."

"People think real food at a drive through? Yes, it's going to be pretty good. Got to be good because it's not fast food," Rocky's Jamaica Sunrise owner Rocky Williams said.

Rocky Williams has an authentic Jamaican accent. He grew up there.

And he serves authentic Jamaican food with a southern twist.

Ranetta Ogle explained a family cook-out created a blend of flavors for one dish.

"All of us being from the South I love ribs. But I also love Rocky's jerk chicken. So I asked him if we could do jerked ribs and he said yes so that's how we did it. We put it together and I absolutely loved them and we had to add it the menu and apparently a lot of other people loved them too," Ranetta Ogle said.

At the family business in Maryville his step daughter and wife both help out but Rocky cooks all of the meat.

"Most times I get here 15 to 7:00, 7:30 sometimes. I'll be here until 12:30 or 1:00. I'm doing all my stuff all my prepping and everything because it's just me alone," he said.

He said jerk chicken is the must-eat menu item. His wife makes some of the sides including macaroni and cheese.

"There's a guy come by and tell her you know I went to New York and tried Paula Deen mac and cheese and he said this is the best. This is better than Paula Deen mac and cheese," he said.

He makes everything fresh from scratch.

He makes his own jerk sauce.

And his uses a generous amount of the ingredient that defines jamaican food: Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce.

"My grandmother taught me how to cook when I was growing up. I grew up with my grandmother," he said.

He met his wife in Jamaica. She's from Maryville.

So he moved here ten years ago and opened the drive-thru restaurant three years ago.

He said the slow pace of the south reminds him of Jamaica.

"That's the real Jamaican culture. We don't do nothing fast. We take our time do it slowly so we do it right and make sure it's done good," he said.

He hopes to open a bigger restaurant with indoor seating but he needs to recruit some of his Jamaican friends who live in the northeast to work here.

"I tell them, hey, Tennessee is different. Tennessee is more laid back almost like Jamaica kind of relaxed. People don't really go fast like up North you know," he said.

Well, there is one difference between Maryville and Jamaica.

"Every day I look around and try to see if I see a beach but I can't see any beach," he said as he laughed. "Sometime I think of get some sand, buy some sand, and just lay it out here in the grass and make it look like a beach."

No beach, yet. Just look for the palm trees on East Broadway in Maryville. 

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