Julie Mango Restaurant is the new hotspot that has been ‘cooking up a storm’ and tantalizing taste buds, satisfying the cravings of Jamaicans in and around Kingston, who yearns to experience the mouth-watering flavours prepared through fusing Chinese and Mexican dishes with a flair of local Jamaican cuisine.
Mckoy’s News had the pleasure to speak with co-owner of Julie Mango Restaurant, Julie Ramchandani-Harpalani, who informed our reporter that this great business venture was her husband and co-owner, Rajiv Harpalani’s dream that she brainstormed with him into becoming a reality.
“It was actually my husband’s desire to always get into the food business. It’s something he always wanted to do and here we are, making the dream a reality. [However], we’re both foodies and we like to try different cuisines and we thought that there was a good market to incorporate as many cuisines as we can with our local Jamaican cuisines;” stated Mrs. Harpalani with great excitement.
The dishes that kept customers yearning for more ‘Julie Mango’
Jamaicans from ‘all walks of life’ seem to be loving this idea of the unique blends of dishes, as the restaurant’s number one dish that kept the customers coming back is one that is fused with a rich Mexican and Jamaican cuisine, as outlined by the proud entrepreneur, Julie.
“Our bestseller and crowd favourite is the chipotle bowl. It comes with whichever protein you choose (veges, tofu, chicken, shrimp, salmon or fish) and it’s done with a black bean and corn salsa, guacamole, fried plantains and it comes together with a cilantro aioli. It’s a fusion of Mexican and Jamaican cuisine and that seems to be quite popular among our customers;” she said.
Mrs. Harpalani further outlined some of the other fulfilling gourmet at the restaurant which reminds customers of the island’s herbs and spices, melted into an Indian, Chinese, and Mexican cuisine.
“So we have quite a few. We have a lot of vegetarian and vegan options. One of our most popular is our Herbivore Delight which is a fully vegan club sandwich. It’s layered with fresh vegetables, avocado and a cilantro chutney and it’s served with a chili-garlic breadfruit.”
“…We also have a dish called the Basil Mother Clucker. A lot of people gravitate towards it because of its name but it’s a side basil dish and it’s served with whatever options you choose…it’s done in a basil sauce made with fresh basil and it’s topped with a fried egg. These are different fusion recipes of bringing cuisines together and so far it’s been working;” Julie added.
Dignitaries flock Julie’s to enjoy those fused cuisines
In relation to the diverse customers who visited this notable establishment, Saturday’s gathering welcomed personages from all areas of the country’s industry.
Through the hosting of a small gathering by Chairman of Miss Global International Beauty Pageant, Mr. Lachu Ramchandani, the exquisitely decorated ambiance of the restaurant was further beautified with a number of the country’s dignitaries, on Saturday.
These include the wife of Jamaican Prime Minister, Mrs. Juliet Holness, Nigerian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ambassador Dr. Maureen Tamuno, the Tourism Enhancement Fund Chairman, Mr. Godfrey Dyer, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw among several other notable public figures.
The atmosphere at Julie Mango Restaurant which was buzzing with chattering, deep discussions and laughter was not short of meals to continue wetting the guests’ taste buds as the staffs and the owners served up a deluxe buffet styled menu, which kept its customers happy, filled and satisfied.
Getting evicted being a “blessing in disguise”- Julie Harpalani
Despite the growth and great excitement that surrounds this new ‘buzzing’ restaurant, like many businesses, the owners were faced with some setbacks in last year when Covid-19 hit Jamaica. This major blow came on the heels of the team making preparations to open at Eden Gardens in March 2020 but was forced to officially open four month later in August; after which, the entrepreneurs were served with a notice of eviction due to the hotel being sold that same year.
However, Mrs. Harpalani told Mckoy’s News that despite the hindrances, she is grateful for what has transpired because Julie Mango is reaping fruitful results.
“So we were forced to find a new location and thankfully we did, we found a really lovely location at Mayfair Hotel and it has been a blessing in disguise. The response has been positive, we’re very happy to be where we are, we have great landlords. It has been a very positive experience in the last month and we look forward to the positivity that is to come;” Harpalani gratefully expressed.
Julie also added that she has seen an increase in the number of customers visiting the establishment daily, which is as a result of where it is situated, and also due to the fact that more persons are allowed the freedom to dine outdoors; and for this, she is very grateful.
“Definitely and of course with the reduction in Covid numbers as well, more people being vaccinated, people are a little more comfortable going out to eat and that has definitely resulted in better business;” she stated.
The restaurant can comfortably accommodate a total of 75 guests.
In that same breath, the considerate businesswoman added that despite a boost in the number of customers partaking in the delight of her business, she is not in total agreement with the revised Covid-19 and curfew measures which saw the government’s gradually reopening the country recently.
“I’m not really for the extended hours because I feel that we are not at the point yet where we can afford to have that. I think that with the reduced hours it was definitely helping our numbers to go down and I certainly hope that we will not go back to where we were a few months ago with the spikes in numbers and our hospitals being overwhelmed;” she further stated.
Julie Mango fears competition?
The pandemic has caused several damages and breakdown in production and businesses all across Jamaica, however, there are some positive impacts which have derived from staying at home.
Persons were force to use their creative innate skills to create online business ventures while others tap into trending business of opening restaurants and getting involved in the E-commerce National Delivery Solution (ENDS) Pilot Programme, implemented by the government recently.
With this inflow of newly established restaurants and more deliveries and take-out services being offered, our news team asked Mrs. Harpalani if the restaurant space has become more competitive.
“No I don’t think I’d say there is competition because there is room for growth. Jamaica is such a big place and you have so much dynamic people here who have such different taste and desires and I think there is room for everybody. Once you’re able to offer something different and something special…that’s pleasing to the eye and pleasing to the palette, people are going to come out…” she replied confidently.
In relation to future plans to relocate the restaurant to other countries, the spirited businesswoman who is of Indian ethnicity, was born and raised in Jamaica and has no plans of leaving soon, as she reassures her customers that Julie Mango is sticking to its roots.
“One thing the last year has thought us is that what man proposes, God disposes. So it’s not making plans for the future right now, right now we’re trying to get by one day at a time and once things get back to normal and we’re in a better place, then I think we can think about plans. Right now, we’re just focusing on getting through where we are right now;” Mrs. Harpalani concluded.
Julie Mango Restaurant can be found on Instagram and Facebook: @juliemangorestaurant.
Natasha Williams- Mckoy’s News Senior Writer
Email: [email protected]