In a special ceremony Thursday, April 28th, the Lauderhill City Commission officially renamed NW 41st Terrace as Joy Sawh Street, in honor of the Trinidadian-born businessman Joy Sawh of Joy’s Roti Delight.
Friends, family, as well as local and international dignitaries gathered to remember the community leader. Official representatives from Trinidad and Tobago included former Prime Minister and close family friend, the Honorable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Executive Officer of the United National Congress, Ravi Ratiram, as well as Mayor Gopaul Boodhan of the Borough of Chaguanas – Lauderhill’s Sister City in Trinidad and Tobago. Mayor Richard J. Kaplan, Vice Mayor M. Margaret Bates, Lauderhill City commissioner Howard Berger and Commissioner Ken Thurston were also in attendance for the historic occasion.
“Joy’s Roti Shop is such an important piece of the city of Lauderhill,” says Lauderhill Operations Manager Leslie, Johnson, regarding the city’s decision to rename the street after Sawh. “So much of what goes around in the Caribbean community, especially for the Trinidadian Diaspora, centers around Joy’s Roti Shop. It’s the epicenter. From soca legends to prime ministers, everybody comes here to Joy’s Roti. So when residents said the wanted to rename a street after one of their most beloved business owners, the commission heard that loud and clear. They themselves loved and adored Joy.”
“Joy has been a great inspiration and motivation for Trinidad and Tobago, but also I think for the Diaspora,” said Persad-Bissassar of her childhood friend. “What was most wonderful about Joy was that not only did he help himself and his family, he helped others. And even back home he would make remittances to causes in Trinidad, to schools and temples. They [The Sawh Family] have always been very kind, generous, loving people. I know they have also assisted many families here who may have come on hard times. So I felt it to be a honor to have been invited to attend such an auspicious occasion where a son our our soil is being honored in this manner. I cannot think of anyone more deserving that Joy.”
The event also included entertainment from local artists who often performed at community showcases held on the restaurant’s grounds. The ceremony began with a parade led by the Junkanoo Band, and continued with performances from local Tassa drum groups. The event, however, also served as a intimate reunion of the Sawh family in remembrance of Joy, with family and friends traveling from Trinidad to attend the event.
“It was such a great honor for my children, my grand-children,” said widow of Joy Sawh, Sheila. “Today I wish he was here. But I know he is here. If I was God, today I’ll give everyone a husband like mine.”
Vishwanath “Joy” Ramsaroop Sawh was born October 1, 1952 in Trinidad. Joy and Sheila, with sons Pradeep and Dave, moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1988, and on Valentine’s Day, 1992, officially opened their doors to Joy’s Roti Delight. Joy’s Roti became a pioneering restaurant for other Caribbean proprietors in the city. Sawh worked with several charity and cultural organizations, contributing every year to schools, temples, orphanages and other missions in South Florida, Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica. Sawh passed away on Sunday March 16, 2014, leaving behind his wife, two sons, daughter-in-law Shareen, as well as grandchildren Vishal, Savir, Rivan, and Vasana.