Island Grill opens 18th outlet at UTech
LOCAL restaurant chain Island Grill, headed by Thalia Lyn opened its eighteenth outlet at the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) yesterday.
The 11,000 square foot restaurant catering to students on campus came in at a cost of around $15 million.
Speaking at the formal ceremony held on the UTech compound, Island Grill's CEO Thalia Lyn said that two and a half years ago, the President of UTech, Professor Errol Morrison, approached her to have Island Grill on campus in order to add variety to the students' culinary choices.
In April 2012, Island Grill's presence at UTech consisted of a food truck at lunch time which proved very successful, so much so that another food truck was added in September of that same year. This created the impetus for Island Grill to place a fully fledged restaurant, bringing its total in the chain across the country to eighteen.
Lyn has gone one step further and has added caloric content onto the menu. A quarter chicken meal comes to 500 calories , while a cup of soup contains just 100 calories.
"The Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson is insisting that Jamaicans embark on a healthier lifestyle and in keeping with that sentiment we are proud to announce that here at UTech we offer an MSG-free menu. With the help of Mrs Franny Mahfood, the noted nutritionist at the Heart Foundation, we have developed a 500-calorie Go-Lite quarter chicken meal. The idea is to always know what you are eating and its effects on your health. Count your calories and know what you are putting into your body," said Lyn.
She also announced at the ceremony that Island Grill's new beverage partner is Wysinco and Coca-Cola. She added that her son came up with the idea of a designer refresher cup with more beverage choices to boost beverage sales. It has paid off -- introduced in December of last year by the end of January, Island Grill saw a 50 per cent jump in fountain drink sales with UTech being the second volume leader, only beaten by the Twin Gates store which is open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Chairman of Wysinco William Mahfood said that he courted Thalia Lyn some thirteen years ago, pointing out that Bigga is a true Jamaica brand and that there were obviously clear synergies to an alliance with Island Grill which is also an iconic Jamaican brand.
Back then he recalled the timing wasn't right but in 2006 Wysinco began a partnership with Coca-Cola which gave the Jamaican company a wider portfolio of beverages.
" Today Wysinco has been able to put together a portfolio of beverages which is unsurpassed. In December of last year, with the partnership with TradeWinds (Tru-Juice brands) what we now have is something for everybody. So if you go into Island Grill across Jamaica, you will be able to have choices. Choices to have a bottle of Wata, Coke, Boom, Tru-Juice, Bigga , or a Minute Maid. "The partnership is a tremendous one because it sees two indigenous Jamaican companies coming together looking out for the
best interests of our people. We are partnering to showcase the best that these two Jamaican companies have to offer, " said Mahfood.
UTech was opened to the public in 1958 with just 50 students, today it has 14,000.
Chairman of Island Grill, Howard Mitchell and Thalia Lyn presented Mustard Seed with a $100,000 cheque to help with the nutritional needs of children. Mitchell also announced that for the month of February, which is Heart month, Island Grill will donate two per cent of its sales at the UTech outlet to the Heart Foundation.
Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, said he fully endorses the move by Island Grill to add a calorie count to its menu and to keep it MSG-free. He further commended Island Grill for opting to use local foods which in turn means more money for local farmers.