Seafood lovers can now reel in their favourite catch of the day — fast-food style — at Fish Pot, the city's newest on-the-go eatery. The Rainforest Seafoods-owned restaurant, which officially opened its doors to the public last Monday, is already doing brisk business, and when Thursday Food popped in for a visit, a bustling lunchtime crowd was filing in.
Inside, it's hard to ignore the muted tropical motif of Fish Pot's décor, with its blues, yellows, and reds and hanging orb lights, which is the work of design maven Ardelle Dalla Costa. The striking seaside and fish-themed images snapped by Cookie Kinkead adorn its walls.
Fish Pot's colourful menu board offers a range of seafood bites from fish tea and shrimp pumpkin soups, to escoveitched and steamed fish combos, to fried and curried shrimp, and such side orders as sweet potato wedges, fried plantains and peppered shrimp.
Despite being in the business of seafood, Fish Pot does not assault our nostrils with any raw whiffs of seafood whatsoever. It's a secret, manager trainee Max Jardim, tells us; and he is adamant about not divulging how the restaurant manages to keep these odours at bay.
Max is the son of Brian Jardim, Rainforest Seafoods' CEO, and the unfailingly polite 20-something, says that Fish Pot's debut on the fast-food market is looking to demystify the widely held view that seafood is always an expensive buy.
"Our price point is comparable to any major fast-food restaurant; you can buy a meal here for under $400," Max explains. "We're proving that seafood can be affordable."
The newly opened Half Way Tree location is not Rainforest's first foray into the fast-food market, as Max informs that Christiana, Manchester, is home to the initial Fish Pot store. "We piloted the Fish Pot concept there and tried to perfect the model before coming to the public in Kingston which is a little more discriminating," he shares with Thursday Food.
Meanwhile, Ernest Grant, Rainforest's general manager, says lessons were learnt and tweaks made based on feedback at the pilot location. "We listened to the consumers in Christiana and improved the service levels, and tweaked the menus to make the recipes more reflective of a Jamaican palate; the response of consumers in Christiana was very positive, and since we had our soft opening here last week, the reviews of the quality of the food have been very good. We are still in the learning curve in terms of determining the numbers of servings in a day as there is sometimes a little bit of a bottleneck, but we'll get there."
The fast-food restaurant is twinned with a retail store, directly adjacent to it indoors, where consumers can purchase frozen Rainforest Seafood products. The rationale, Grant explains, "is to offer a combination of frozen, as well as prepared seafood. So one can come in and have something to eat on the spot, and if they so desire, buy that same product at a counter right next to the food counter, take it home and prepare it for themselves."
The game plan for Fish Pot extends beyond its current Kingston and Christiana site, as Max says the company foresees more locations in the pipeline. "Other Fish Pot locations will be rolled out as soon as we can find locations that have the space, and where we think it will serve the demographics that we cater to," Max shares. "The search continues for the third location, but we have been given some indication from the consumers who have come here as to where they would love to see the next one. That's a secret for now."
Fish Pot Restaurant is located at 39a Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5.
Telephone: 960-6039. Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday - 7:00 am to 7:00 pm; Fridays - 7:00 am to 9:00 pm; Saturdays - 9:00 am to 5:00 pm