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Crafting a Jerk Chicken Franchise

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What started in 1999 as an idea to bring great seafood to the Caribbean community, today has emerged as a four-restaurant chain in Brooklyn, with jerk chicken at the center of the offerings.

“Because of the demand for the product from our customers,” says Kirk Gibson, the Fisherman’s Cove CEO, the business has segued into a jerk chicken center. “Currently, our jerk chicken happens to be 70 percent of the business.”

There is a groupie-style following for Fisherman’s Cove dishes, and long lines at each location. According to one patron, who preferred not to be identified, ”It’s worth the wait, because they cook two times a day, and the food is always fresh and delicious.”

If you think running one restaurant is hard, try running four where Jamaican dishes do not get any more authentic. Fisherman’s Cove has been dishing up delectable consistency in Jamaican cuisine from jerk chicken, oxtail, curried goat, curried chicken, and escovitch fish to rice and peas for more than 13 years in Brooklyn, New York at: 2025 Church Ave, 4 Newkirk Plaza, 2147 Nostrand Ave. and 1122 Eastern Parkway.

Gibson credits the success of the restaurant chain to his tenacity and passion to bring consistently tasty Jamaican cuisine to its customers. “From the beginning I knew that we had to be consistently good with what we are bringing to our customers,” he said.

The Fisherman’s Cove story has not been one without struggles and obstacles. It all started with acquiring the first location on Church Avenue and East 21st Street, Gibson said. “I knew that the Church Avenue location would have been a success, but for some reason the owner of the building didn’t want to rent it to me, so I pursued him from September to December of 1999. He finally relented and in January of 2000, we officially opened the first Fisherman’s Cove.”

A major obstacle for Gibson at the time was how to transfer the meals he had perfected in smaller pots to larger ones. “It was very challenging for me in the beginning because I had hundreds of small pots on the stove daily to meet the demand until I figured out how to do the process in larger pots, without affecting the flavor, With the help of Chef Pauline Kennedy, we were able to come up with our winning recipes that are unique to Fisherman’s Cove,” said Gibson.

Another area of challenge for Gibson was securing financing. “As with any new venture financing is always a challenge,” he said. “So I had to be very creative by approaching friends and family members who chipped in for the Church Avenue location; and four years later for the Newkirk Mall location. My wife, Carla, was very instrumental in securing financing for the Flatbush Junction (Nostrand Avenue) location and, three years later, the Eastern Parkway location.

Gibson stresses transparency in food preparation. “Our food preparation is very transparent, where patrons could see what they are getting. I do not believe in serving food from a back room, because transparency is our motto.”

He also attributes his success in the restaurant industry to listening to God. “God has blessed me to be in the great ministry of Dr. A. R. Bernard, pastor of Christian Cultural Center and my spiritual mentor. He often teaches about character and about giving people your best. Having deep faith in God.

“By listening to when God speaks to me; tithing and perseverance, I have seen my business grow over the years.”

Gibson’s advice for people planning to start a business: “Be determined, even when the odds are against you. Don’t let anyone talk you out of your vision. Give people your very best.”

“Most of all, put God first. These things should be a great recipe for success.”

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Glen Hylton from Seattle, WA says:
I am encouraged by your account of how you got your business going particularly, the jerk chicken. I am interested in starting a jerk chicken business, but challenged on how to build from my own skill of doing this for friends and family. It's the business aspect that's intimidating. I'd love to maintain contact to check out my progress as I go along.

Thank you for your story, it tells me that it's possible for me to do this.

Glen Hylton
Jan. 10, 2014, 4:16 pm
Shonnette Broomes-Simon from Fort Greene Brooklyn says:
Thank You, for your words of wisdom and for shearing your story.
Would consider becoming a Franchise? I would be your first:) Patient your Jerk Chicken seasoning & Sauce, put it on a Jar! it's AMAZING!!! Anyway that's my thought .....
God Bless

Shonnettebsimon@gmail.com
Oct. 7, 2014, 9:35 pm

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