VIDEO: A Half-Century at The Pelican

VIDEO: A Half-Century at The Pelican

THE ICONS: Countdown to the 16th Annual Table Talk Food Awards

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

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In 1964 when Stanley and Clarissa Scudamore and their friend Jeremy Bennett, who was an accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, gave the food industry a go, and opened up The Coffee Shop (which in due course would be rechristened The Pelican Grill), little did they know their culinary upstart would outlast many others that came before and after, and today, bear the illustrious honour as a landmark eatery on Montego Bay's fabled Hip Strip. "We really didn't know what we were doing," revealed Bennett to the Jamaica Observer Food Awards Committee Chair NMW Thursday last at what we've dubbed 'Cheers, the-celebrated eatery'. Truth be told, they had not yet perfected the formula; that would come a few decades later. But with Clarissa assigned the kitchen and service aspects of the business, Bennett the accounts and stock control and Stanley purchasing and stores, they were certainly off to a formidable start. Failure was not an option even in the face of adversity. Stanley Scudamore died after a stroke in 1967. The business continued with Clarissa and Jeremy. The two married in 1970, pelicans continued to frequent the vicinity and generation after generation frequented the soda fountain enjoying the thick, rich, tasty jumbo malt. Noted industrialist Jimmy Moss-Solomon, a long-time devotee of Pelican Grill who was unable to attend Monday's walk down memory lane due to prior committments, raved about the establishment and we are certain will ensure a case study be handled by the Mona Business School. Indeed, how many restaurants in the region can boast a pension plan for their staff?

The Rock's very own Cheers -- located on the well-traversed Gloucester Avenue oceanfront -- where everybody knows your name, and those of the grandchildren to boot, continues to be a frequented spot for parish locals, out-of-towners and foreign vacationers and a well-oiled family-operated business that now spans three generations and is today helmed by Clarissa and Stanley's son Peter, his wife Elaine, their offspring Rachel and Laura and Peter's sister Elizabeth Bennett-Dalley. Family matriarch Clarissa still opens the kichen for breakfast and Jeremy, you guessed it, is still in charge of accounts and stock control.

The multigenerational family, all unfailingly polite and genetically blessed with an easy charm, extended an invitation to long-time customers in Montego Bay as well as the Jamaica Observer Food Awards judging panel, which included a number of guest judges, to what proved quite a delightful 50th anniversary dinner at the restaurant on Monday, March 3.

As a precursor to the evening menu, comprised mostly of The Pelican's signature Jamaican dishes (jerked chicken, escoveitched fish, curried goat, stewed peas, and oxtail and beans), guests swapped stories about their favourite dining experiences at the iconic Second City eatery, as waiters brought out shots of jumbo malt shakes, legendary must-sip beverages inextricably linked to the restaurant.

Paying appropriate respect to the staff on whose capable shoulders the daily running of the business rests, just ahead of starting dinner service, managing director Peter Scudamore introduced seven of his longest-serving staffers who collectively have dedicated 210 (!) years in the Pelican's employ.

Dinner which followed was expectedly substantial in both the rich flavour of the menu courses and the engaging repartee with the family, who seamlessly navigated tending to their guests as well as unfamiliar dine-in customers.

The evening closed with a decadent table of desserts that included such sinful treats as rum and raisin, and kiwi strawberry cheesecakes, chocolate cake and bread pudding.

Appetites more than satiated, the expansive dinner party retired from the Pelican's dinner tables assured that the 50-year-old eatery could easily notch another half-century under its belt, should the eatery's family and staffers' uncanny knack for beguiling warmth and the ever-so-consistent delivery of quality menu items remain intact. We have no cause for doubt.

— NMW & Omar Tomlinson




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