A Taste of Caribbean Culture,The story behind Caribbean Feast.

Rachel Kelso and Danyelle Gaines

Heading towards downtown Statesboro, off to the side of Fair road sits a small white hut. Alone in a grassy patch, surrounded by roads on each side, the yellow trim glows in the sun and a warm breeze gently blows the fringed umbrellas covering picnic tables inside of a white picket fence. Caribbean Feast, a restaurant specializing in authentic caribbean food, opened six years ago by Jocelyn Poole and Noel Wheeler. Poole, who has Jamaican heritage and Wheeler, who was born and raised in Trinidad, use their Caribbean roots for cuisine inspiration.

“People have always enjoyed our food, so when my husband retired he decided he wanted to open a restaurant,” Poole said.

Wheeler is a Georgia Southern University alum with degrees in political science and public administration. Although education was and still is very important to him, his true dream was to create and own a restaurant. He and his wife pursued the dream together and opened Caribbean Feast on Jan. 5, 2010.

“I started cooking at the early age of seven and have been told that I can make boiled water taste good,” Wheeler said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking and consider it a hobby even now with the opening of the restaurant. I also think of it as an art and a very relaxing outlet for me.”

Poole has been an employee at GSU since 1992. She is currently the associate department head and assistant professor for the Information Services department. She plans on retiring in November and opening a bigger restaurant with her husband.

“We plan on expanding, getting a liquor license and possibly bringing family from Trinidad to help out,” Poole said.

Poole described her cooking influence as both southern and Caribbean. She grew up living in the deep south, but still celebrated her Caribbean heritage. When she started cooking, she experimented with flavors and dishes that incorporated both a southern and Caribbean flavor.

The couple believes the healthy ingredients they use, such as cumin, turmeric and ginger, are what sets their restaurant apart from others in Statesboro. Some of the beverages are homemade recipes including their sweet mango tea and sorrel juice that feature natural ingredients like hibiscus.

The restaurant is frequently visited by members of the GSU football team. They typically order oxtails, which are the restaurant’s most popular dish as well as the most difficult to make on the menu. Coco bread, mango tea and Jamaican beef patties are also very popular amongst students.

“The food and beverages are completely authentic, and the lovely seating area gives the essence of the Caribbean,” Tessa Morris, sophomore vocal performance major, said. She particularly enjoys the jerk pork sandwich. “The meat had so much flavor that it didn’t need any sauce, which was a pleasant surprise for me,” Morris said.

Caribbean Feast is located at 407 Fair Rd. and offers $1 off of any dish on the menu for Georgia Southern students.