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Dolly’s Jerk Joint brings taste of the islands to Sarnia

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Cathy Dobson

First impressions mean a lot.

And at the new Dolly’s Jerk Joint, the smell of Jamaican patties fresh out of the oven and Dolly Boyce’s friendly smile is what greets you at the door.

It’s been less than a month since Boyce went into business, arriving early each day to start preparing fresh curries, fresh pastry and her own brew of Caribbean spices in a small open kitchen.

She’s loving it and the steady stream of customers picking up their orders.

“I love the food, I love to cook and I love to meet people,” says the 35-year-old, who was born in Guyana and grew up in St. Lucia.

Boyce attended culinary school in St. Lucia and became a chef, putting in long hours at various hotels. She had been at the St. Lucia Sandals resort for nine years when she met a Canadian restaurant owner who invited her to Parry Sound.

“She asked me if I wanted to work at her restaurant and she sponsored me,” Boyce said. There, she met her boyfriend from Sarnia and moved here in 2011.

“I worked for different restaurants in Sarnia but I always wanted to work for myself. That has been my dream,” she said.

Artwalk 2015 proved a turning point. She set up a booth and sold jerk chicken with homemade sauce and Jamaican patties.

“We sold out so fast,” she said. “It gave me the confidence to know I have something.”

Boyce started cooking at her home, taking orders on Fridays for all her Caribbean favourites. Stewed oxtail became one of her best sellers, as did frozen or fresh Jamaican patties.

Along the way, she learned about the Sarnia Lambton Business Development Board where she received assistance with a business plan and landed a loan to set up the storefront.

“I used to wait for the bus across the street from this place and dreamed about having my restaurant here,” she said from behind the stove at 539 Christina St., beside the Sarnia Police station.

“It’s perfect. There are lots of people, lots of parking and there are not too many other restaurants.”

Dolly’s cooking combines Jamaican, Guyanese and St. Lucian cuisine, she said.

“I took their recipes and made my own spice combinations by playing around until I really liked it.

“I’m also about keeping it really healthy,” she added. “I use cayenne pepper, mint, oregano, ginger, rosemary…they’re all fresh and they’re all good for you.”

She combines her spices – some straight from Guyana – with green onion, peppers and other ingredients she won’t divulge to make a seasoning that’s the basis for many of her dishes.

Dolly’s Jerk Joint is takeout only and she caters as well. In the summer, she plans to have a barbecue with limited seating outside.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said, just a week after opening. “But I’m willing to put in the hours.

“There have been people who told me I couldn’t do this and that just makes me push harder.”

Dolly’s Jerk Joint is open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Phone orders are welcome by calling 519-490-8210. Menu items and prices are available on Dolly’s Jerk Joint Facebook page.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact [email protected] or 226-932-0985.




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