Henry Stewart hails from Jamaica and has lived in Amityville for almost 30 years. As an avid cook, he wanted to bring the authentic tastes of his home country to Long Island.
He started searching for locations, even considered opening a food truck, but he eventually decided he wanted to become a restauranteur.
This past summer, that dream became a reality.
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“This has been in the making for the past 5 years,” Stewart said. “A lot of people say my cooking is good, so I decided I’m going to open a restaurant.”
Vibes Jamaican Restaurant — located at 1195 Sunrise Highway in Copiague — offers a variety of traditional, Jamaican dishes, all prepared and cooked by Stewart himself.
The Jamaican eatery is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the menu consists of breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. People can come in and sit at one of the few tables in the restaurant, or grab some food to go. Stewart said the business is starting to grow and he noticed more people are coming in around lunchtime.
Vibes is like a Chipotle for Jamaican food: it is set up like an assembly line, customers can scan their options, and choose dishes like jerk chicken, brown stew chicken, oxtail, fried chicken, red snapper and more. The most popular dish at Vibes is the curry goat, Stewart said, which is his personal favorite too.
For the early risers who visit the restaurant, they can try breakfast items like saltfish and ackee, which is the national dish of Jamaica. Ackee is a tropical fruit known to the region and saltfish is a meaty, white fish.
Stewart said he thinks he serves “the best Jamaican food on Long Island.” The Vibes owner, who travels to Jamaica two or three times a year, said his food is all about the flavor.
“For me, most of the Jamaican restaurants that I go to are just not getting the taste that I’m looking for,” he said. For example, the customary coconut rice and red beans, he said: “when you can eat it without meat, that’s when it’s good.”
Stewart said he hopes to expand Vibes Jamaican Restaurant to other towns on Long Island that are missing the Jamaican culture.
He believes those who have not tasted Jamaican food before will not be disappointed.
“We eat Spanish food, we eat Chinese food, it doesn’t matter what it is, you give it a try,” Stewart said.
For more information, check out Vibes Jamaican Restaurant’s full menu and updates on their Facebook page.