From Montego Bay, Jamaica to the Bay of Quinte

Photo of man and woman holding up a caribbean dish behind the counter in their colourful restaurant.

Lorna and Dennis Jarrett, owners of the Caribbean Jerk Spot – Photo by Stephen Petrick

After more than 20 years of living in the busy Toronto area, Lorna and Dennis Jarret wanted to find a new place to call home.

They found one in the Bay of Quinte region, a place they would soon find has some similarities to their native country of Jamaica.

“We came here to get rid of the (big) city life,” says Lorna, standing with her husband inside their take-out restaurant, Caribbean Jerk Spot, at 690 Bell Blvd. in Belleville. “It’s very laid back here and in Jamaica it’s very laid back.”

The couple started selling Jamaican dishes, such as Jerk Chicken, at the Belleville Farmers’ Market, upon their move to Belleville. In time, they realized that demand for their products was so strong, they could open a restaurant here.

The couple say, with a bit of a laugh, that when they moved to Belleville their intention was to retire. Of course, now, they’re anything but retired. They opened Caribbean Jerk Spot, at the corner of Bell and Sidney, in October 2017 and business has been brisk the whole time.

They’re grateful for the opportunity to be in Belleville. They say people have been very welcoming and supportive of their businesses. Authentic Caribbean food is rarely found in the region, so they have little competition. They’ve had customers come from as far as Picton and even Pickering to try their food.

When not working, they’re active members of their church, The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Belleville. They also have a big family. Lorne and Dennis have four children, two of whom are fully grown and two of whom came with them to Belleville.

Running a family business, they admit, is hard work, but they enjoy the work and enjoy showcasing the food of their native country. Lorna is often found behind the counter wearing a green, yellow and black “Jamaica” t-shirt. While both Lorna and Dennis have lived virtually their whole adult lives in Canada, they spent their youth in Jamaica, in the Montego Bay area (which, like the Bay of Quinte, is a great touristy area on the water and west of Kingston).

Their advice to new Canadians looking to settle and make roots in the country is that they have options beyond big city life. Dennis says he loves how the Bay of Quinte region is “away from the hustle-and-bustle” of Canada’s big cities. And it allows his family a little more opportunity to “take it easy.”

— Written and Photographed By Stephen Petrick