For the past six years, Brenton Walker and his cousin Hugh have been serving up the flavors of Jamaica by grilling jerk chicken out on the sidewalk of Girard Avenue.
Brenton says the three main components of jerk seasoning are "salt, allspice and that fiery scotch bonnet pepper." The pepper makes the seasoning hot and gives it a unique flavor.
"It will grab you by the nose," laughs Brenton.
He previously worked in the automotive industry before retiring to open his restaurant, Reggae Reggae Vibes, which serves what he describes as fusion Caribbean food.
The jerk chicken with its special blend of spices is his specialty.
"I'm from Boston in Jamaica, where jerk first came from," explains Brenton. "I was born at Allspice Grove."
Allspice is one of the main ingredients in jerk seasoning, "so it's in my DNA," says Brenton.
Jamaican cooking was passed down through the Walker family. His cousin, Hugh, says he started cooking when he was 15 years old.
"I used to have my own restaurant in Jamaica before I come here," says Hugh.
"We call him Mr. Vibes, because he's totally dedicated to the business," says Brenton. "He's a great cook."
Hugh starts cooking at 6 a.m. and is on the grill outside with the jerk chicken by 9:30 a.m.
"I'll give it like half an hour on the grill, just to get the smoke," explains Hugh.
Reggae Reggae Vibes offers lots of traditional Jamaican favorites, but they also created a sandwich for the hometown crowd.
"The jerk chicken cheesesteak is a play on the Philadelphia cheesesteak with the jerk seasoning," says Brenton. "And it has proven very popular."
They have created a mild and a spicy jerk sauce to suit all customer tastes.
"People from all over come to Reggae Reggae Vibes," says Hugh. "Yeah, I'm feeling so proud."
Brenton agrees, "It is the greatest compliment."
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, access to the restaurant is limited to two customers at a time. But orders can be placed online and delivered right to your doorstep via Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash and Black and Mobile.
517 W Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19123