Chef Tony O’Neil has been on the move this year.
First serving his Caribbean-inspired meals as a street vendor and curbside out of his home, O'Neil moved to the commercial kitchen at the Superior Business Center, then to Average Joe’s Pub before landing a place to call his own.
Jamrock Cultural Restaurant is moving to 1901 Tower Ave. The grand opening is Jan. 6. O'Neil said he will continue to serve food at Average Joe’s through Dec. 28.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet, but it’s an amazing feeling to know that it’s my own,” O’Neil said. “I have the key. Nobody else is making demands, and now I don’t have to give out a percentage of my hard work.”
In a Facebook post on Dec. 1, O’Neil expressed his gratitude to Mike Lemmon, the owner of Average Joe’s, for allowing him to level up at the establishment, showing him how to run a successful business and provide good customer services.
O’Neil said his inspiration comes from his grandmother, Dorothy Reece.
“My grandmother has done this for her family for many, many years — all her life, all 84 years of her life,” O’Neil said. “Before that, they owned their establishment before wanting more, wanting the American dream and coming to the United States and her becoming a registered nurse.
"Yeah, she’s definitely my inspiration. Some of my last conversations with her was just how proud she was of me, and how she wanted me to keep going and remain humble. She’s just super happy for me that I found something I love to do.”
O’Neil has been working to decorate his new space in the former Pak’s Green Corner and Kenny Wong's site. He said the new building, which he has the option to buy, offers walk-in refrigeration and freezers, and will give him the opportunity to operate longer, hire staff members and even help lower his prices.
There will be seating inside, but O’Neil said he will be taking precautions and following safety measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Neil is making plans to build a fence at his new location and introduce a new mural when that’s complete.
Jamrock's hours will change in the new space. The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday through Friday from 4-9 p.m., in addition to late night hours from midnight to about 3:40 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Lunch will be served at 2 p.m. Saturdays and brunch will start at noon Sundays.