Like many Jamaican restaurants in the United States, Omar’s Kitchen and Rum Bar in New York City was seeing its best days before having to shut down due to COVID-19 regulations.
Owner of the restaurant in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Omar Walters admitted that initially, he had not predicted that the coronavirus would have had the devastating impact that it has in the United States. “At first it was like, oh we can take a little break, get a little rest, we get to sleep a little bit. So we started back with the takeout aspect of everything” said Walters.
During the height of the pandemic, Omar donated meals to first responders as well as food insecure children and elderly. These charitable acts helped motivate him to re-open in time for outdoor dining.
“At first I was a little bit nervous, I was still hesitant about being outside. I didn’t understand corona[virus]. That started giving me a head start on actually reopening because I found myself coming to the kitchen every day, getting stuff together. I kind of had a routine of coming back to the restaurant.”
His menu is inspired by the diverse flavors of the Caribbean. He also adds his own unique flair to dishes like a Shrimp Doubles Taco.
“It’s a popular Trinidadian dish. I know some of the Caribbean cultures take ownership of it. I usually go back to Jamaica very often, I also get their spin on things, their secret recipes,” he said.
He credits his success to the hard work he’s put in over the years, throwing events. Walters has managed to transition many of his guests from private dinner parties into the loyal patrons of his restaurant today.
“I live in Texas, it’s well worth the wait, it makes the food even better. The food is already amazing but the whole atmosphere makes everything amazing. Good time, good vibe.” said one customer.
His beautiful outdoor display is also attracting new faces during the pandemic.
“Neighbors and people walking by, people that didn’t know we existed that always walked by the restaurant are now coming in,” Walters said. “So we’re gaining a new clientele on top of the current clientele we already have.”
The future looks bright and delicious for Omar and he has big plans to expand his brand.
“I think what the future holds for Omar’s Kitchen is different locations, different concepts, food themes, events, sauces, branding, and I want to get into some chef modelling maybe, we’ll see.”
Omar’s is open Thursday- Sunday and sometimes during the week as well. For more information go to www.omarskitchennyc.com.