May 26, 2023
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Pimento Jerk Kitchen finds new home base in Whitchurch-Stouffville



A decade ago, Philip and Rose Hendricks’ hunt for a kitchen for their Caribbean takeout business brought them to Whitchurch-Stouffville. “We were walking down Main Street and we saw the Smokery,” recalls Philip Hendricks. They ended up having a chat with the owner, bonding over their shared approach to smoking meats, and made a promise to come back for dinner someday. Years passed and the Hendricks leaned into their own business, first as physical takeout spots around the Greater Toronto Area, then in 2018 as Pimento Jerk, a food truck serving up Caribbean fare with clever names and inventive dishes like jerk chicken poutine, jerk chicken rice boxes and jerk chicken wraps.

Things were going well. Toronto had opened up to food trucks and Pimento Jerk found fans throughout the city through festivals and setting up in strategic locations.

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

Then COVID-19 hit. At first, Hendricks felt worried, festivals were cancelled and people were being told to social distance. But as it evolved, he came to see it as a blessing. The food truck was high enough that there was no face-to-face contact and they were already equipped for contactless payment. “It gave us, the little guy, a chance to showcase what exactly we're offering – it wasn't your typical food truck fare as a dessert truck or a chip truck. We were offering our cuisine, and people were loving it.”

The couple found a permanent location to park and, with a little social presence, they were able to elevate and grow their business. They realized it was time to find an industrial kitchen. After a few false starts, they saw a listing for the now-shuttered Smokery, the same restaurant they’d promised to get back to a decade prior. “We did two events with our food truck in Stouffville and the response was overwhelming, and that just solidified that we need to be here,” says Hendricks.

The lease for the Smokery was within their budget, so they signed on with plans to finish out the food truck season and put what few resources they had into the place. “It's no coincidence that a decade ago we came across this place, and here we are now,” he says.

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

However, getting the place was just the start. The lease may have been within their budget, but Hendricks admits there were a lot of unforeseen costs to opening a kitchen with a small restaurant attached to it. “It was a lot to take on (but) we also saw the opportunity, we were looking at the pros about it and realized we are one-of-a-kind in this town.”

As they were working through the logistics, they came across My Main Street, a program that aims to revitalize business communities through hands-on support and is funded with a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO). The program included a $10,000 non-repayable contribution and in-depth market research on the demographics, interests and social media use in the area – both vital resources for a new business in a new town.

“It allowed us to put the funds that weren’t really there into where they were needed the most – signage, decor, our social media presence. It helped us greatly,” says Hendricks. “We have beautiful signage; without the funding we would've had to settle for just a banner.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo

With the funding, the business was able to invest in kitchen equipment and its social media presence to help raise its profile. The market research helped theHendricks understand exactly who was within walking distance and who was likely to visit the business so they could target their social media spending more effectively.

“We’re finally open and we’re happy,” says Hendricks adding that the funding was a vital part in getting there. It’s been a journey since they first came across the Smokery that would eventually house Pimento Jerk Kitchen. “Everything happens for a reason,” he says. “It was meant to be.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Philip Hendricks and Rose Hendricks)

About My Main Street

My Main Street is a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario. The Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario have partnered to deliver My Main Street through two program streams. Learn more at www.mymainstreet.ca.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.





PARTNERS

My Main Street is operated by the Canadian Urban Institute and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


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