The pandemic has taken its toll on the restaurant industry and downtown neighborhoods across the country.
But a downtown Hartford-based restaurant has found a way to thrive and even expand to create new opportunities for the community at the same time.
While a trip to the Caribbean might not be that easy these days, you can find all of its flavors at Russell Grab and Go right on New Britain Avenue in Hartford.
Rice and peas, oxtails and patties – Caribbean staples that are all served at the new location six days a week. Jamaican take-out is the latest venture from owner Hugh Russell who opened the original downtown bar and restaurant on Pratt Street in 2005.
The goal was simple: to bring the flavors of his homeland to Hartford.
“I am very happy to come to this part of town because over the years we have known that there is no Caribbean presence in terms of food in this region,” said Russell. “It was important for us to be here. We are the only black restaurant in downtown Hartford and it was important for us to stay there.
While many restaurants have struggled to survive the pandemic, The Russell has actually increased its footprint, nearly tripling in size when the original restaurant moved to a new space on Allyn Street.
“We have been supported at the restaurant for over 15 years. People swore to make sure we stay no matter what, ”Russell said.
For the man behind the brand, this chance created new jobs and an opportunity to help young people in the community learn about his business.
“It’s not just about bringing food here, but being able to train young people in hospitality and create a future for them. It is important to stay in the neighborhood where I can take the young people to the streets. and teach them about cooking and hospitality. “
Uplifting the community through opportunity, food and a good time are the legacies that Russell hopes to continue for years to come.
Hugh Russell said he hoped to expand the restaurants to other neighborhoods. It is also set to open another food court in downtown Hartford once the workforce begins to return. The Russell is recruiting for all food service positions. Job seekers can send a CV by email to: [email protected]