Caribbean Immigrant Restauranteur Prepares To Feed Hundreds This Thanksgiving

Vinroy-Reid-Mama’s Caribbean Grill
Vinroy Reid, founder of Mama’s Caribbean Grill with his mother, Hazel Mills, inside Mama's Caribbean Grill in Plaza Midwood in May 2021. Photo: QCity Metro.
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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, CHARLOTTE, NC, Thurs. Nov. 25, 2021: A Caribbean-owned and operated restaurant in Charlotte North Carolina is preparing to feed hundreds of families in need this holiday.

The owner of Mama’s Caribbean Grill will serve families their favorite Caribbean dishes today, Thanksgiving Day, for free.  Vinroy Reid, the Jamaican born owner, say it’s important to help families in need especially at this time of year.

Reid, a native of Jamaica, opened Mama’s Caribbean Grill in 2000 at 1504 Central Avenue as a way to connect his Caribbean food and culture to the Charlotte community according to QCity Metro.

“My vision for this location in Charlotte was to make certain that a piece of where I am from and who I am, was able to reach the community,” said Reid, in May, when he received the CIC International Entrepreneur Award and shared news that Mama’s Caribbean Grill, the Central Avenue staple popular for its Jamaican cuisine, reopens after a two-month hiatus due to renovations.

Reid moved to Charlotte in 1994. “I come from a place in Jamaica where we get to know who’s in our community. I know that I had to create a space that I could carry on this tradition to share the culture, food and heritage,” he shared in May when Mayor Vi Lyles and members of the Charlotte International Cabinet (CIC) virtually presented him with the award during the annual Mayor’s International Community Awards (MICA).

Nominees are people who become U.S. citizens and start a business that makes a lasting contribution to the Charlotte community.

Mama’s Caribbean Grill was part of the early wave of restaurants that helped shape the international flavor of the Central Avenue corridor.

Charlotte historian Tom Hanchett told QCity Metro that Reid and his restaurant helped give fresh vitality to a street that had a lot of empty storefronts in the late 1990s.

“Today we think of Central Avenue as a corridor rich in international restaurants, markets and bakeries. That was just barely beginning 20 years ago,” Hanchett was quoted as saying. “In 1998, Sladjana and Vlado Novakovic opened Nova Bakery and Pape Ndiaye launched House of Africa about the same time. You could find a Vietnamese restaurant and the Islamic Center of Charlotte, but that was about it as the 2000s started.”

Reid used his trade in construction to launch another company, VR King Construction, and kept the Caribbean community at the forefront through “Caribbean Connection,” a weekly radio show that highlighted Caribbean music, community and culture. His nonprofit, Youth Hope International, mentors teens and exposes them to vocational skills.

“This is all about building community but also to highlight that it takes one person with one vision, but it takes all of us to make it happen,” he said.

Reid’s community involvement led to a two-time run for a seat on Charlotte City Council representing District 5 – in 2017 and 2019 – but lost both times in the primaries.

The restaurant will be serving the community from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, Nov. 25th.  Dishes will include their delicious curry chicken, oxtails, smoked jerk chicken, and macaroni.