Cooking Caribbean food for a few friends in a local martial arts group led to the grand opening of Carib Kitchen on Friday for owners Reyard and Dianne Khan.
The Khans moved from Trinidad and Tobago more than 20 years ago and one day cooked for Reyard’s friends and got positive feedback. From there they kept trying to open a restaurant when they found a place on Broad Street in Alexander City.
“We tried and we tried and we tried, but there was so much setback,” Reyard said. “This was actually the third place we looked at.”
Martial arts also was not the first time friends have gotten excited about the Khans’ food. Reyard said their son and his friends ask for Caribbean food whenever they visit.
“When they come and they get the food, they go crazy,” Reyard said. “For a soccer game, for a football game, we got to cook for them and they’re in the 30 to 35 years old bracket.”
The Khans moved to Alexander City because Dianne was a pen pal with Dadeville attorney Faye Edmondson since she was 10.
Reyard worked at Madix and Dianne was a writer before opening their restaurant. The Khans wanted to share Carribean food with the community because the closest place residents can eat the cuisine is in Atlanta.
“We want to give back to the community because being immigrants (we want) to assimilate American culture and introduce our culture to them,” Reyard said.
The Khans fed the Alexander City Police Department and held a soft opening for friends before officially opening to the city.
“(I’m) familiar with the food anyway and (Dianne) makes it so many different ways from people who don’t like spicy to I’m surprised (spicy mango sauce is) in a plastic container,” customer Russ Fields said. “(They’re) good people bringing some variety to the area so far it seems like what people are looking for.”
Reyard said they cook with fresh ingredients every day and try to use local produce such as bell peppers for dishes. Dianne works as the head chef at the restaurant.
“We don’t have a freezer so we don’t have anything freezing anytime,” Dianne said.
The restaurant’s food is blend of Caribbean cuisine and its menu will vary every day. On Friday, the restaurant served chicken and beef pelau but will serve other dishes today.
“You’re never likely to come back tomorrow and get (pelau),” Reyard said. “You might get this next two weeks or next week, say Tuesday.”
Carib Kitchen’s opening was delayed a week after a gas line behind the building leaked. Reyard said it was overwhelming to finally be open and the store was backed up a bit Friday.
“It’s been a big moment for us,” Reyard said.
The Khans plan on having poetry reading night for students once a month and have it as a safe place for children to visit.
Carib Kitchen is located at 68 Broad St. and is open from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.