The Carribean collides with Latin America at Curry N Jerk, a new restaurant opening at 126 Monroe Avenue.
The restaurant, which opens in mid-June, is owned by Arturo Azcarate. He said the venture honors his mother, Sharon Rose Bynoe, who passed away eight years ago and was a professional cook.
“The first job I ever had was working for my mom at a Marine base in California, and she was able to introduce our food to the military guys. They loved the Panamanian dishes that she would do sometimes special,” said Azcarate. “I always wanted to give my mom her own restaurant because I believe in our food and how other people have enjoyed eating it when they’ve come to our home.”
Secret family recipes on the menu include curry and jerk chicken, shrimp, salmon and ribs, along with Panamanian-style potato salad, cole slaw, and cabbage and a homemade habanero pepper sauce.
“We’re going to do a combination of the Caribbean that people are used to, and we’re also adding the Latin side of it, which is the Panamanian-style food, and introducing Memphis to that,” said Azcarate.
The 4,500-square-foot building has sat empty for the past eight years after formerly being Lolo’s restaurant. Extensive renovation work included replacing the carpet with hardwood floors, repainting the whole building, and installing new HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.
“The owners of the building have been a big part of making this dream come true,” said Azcarate. “They’ve been very supportive of the vision I have to enhance their building.”
He is also quick to point that without the help and support from his four sisters – Yvette, Corrine, Adeletha, and Mitchell – none of it would have been possible.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without my sisters, who know the recipes and how our dishes should be made,” he said. “Three of them have moved to the Memphis area in the past three months, and one comes here regularly from Dallas. It’s great to have them here to help our chefs take it to the next level.”
He hopes the restaurant adds to the growing diversity of the area’s restaurant scene.
Guests will be able to enjoy live music, drinks and appetizer downstairs in the 507 Room lounge. The restaurant occupies the first floor, and the second and third floors of the building could be built out in the future into apartments or condos.
Plans over the next three years could include opening another Curry N Jerk in the Memphis area, with Arlington and Collierville near the top of Azcarate’s sights at the moment.