The rhythmic sounds of Kelly Rowland's Motivation greeted our Thursday Food team as we approached Eleita's Soup and Grill. It is happy hour at the backyard-inspired restaurant. Almond trees tower over metallic tables and chairs, which are already filled with customers. The restaurant's owner, gospel-recording artiste Calvin 'Prodigal Son' Whilby, welcomes us and shares with us the story of the eatery's genesis.
Located off Constant Spring Road, Eleita's Soup and Grill was opened to the public in February and already boasts a large clientele. "For a restaurant that hasn't done any formal marketing, I think we have been doing extremely well. We started delivering to one person. One person became five, then 15 and 20. Before you knew it, we were delivering to an entire office," Whilby says. Two months after its official opening, Eleita's clients include Jamaica National, FirstCaribbean, National Commercial Bank, as well as a number of boutiques, salons and offices in the Corporate Area; and this has been by mere word of mouth, says Whilby.
But why the restaurant business? Whilby divulged to Thursday Food that he has always had a love for the culinary arts, an affair which began as a child growing up with his grandmother, Eleisha Taylor, after whom the restaurant is named. "She taught me how to do everything, including cooking. So even when I am on tour I would prepare my own meals."
It would seem on the surface that Whilby's decision to open a restaurant was the right choice. The days are the busiest, he says, with a number of politicians, entertainers, both secular and gospel, among the eatery's customers. "I don't discriminate, neither do I judge. I operate a restaurant business and people need to eat. We provide a setting where everybody can be comfortable and enjoy good food," he tells Thursday Food. Although Whilby says Eleita's will eventually expand its menu, currently customers can enjoy six different types of soups as well as days like Chicken Out Mondays; Curry Goat Tuesdays; Seafood Wednesdays; Stew Peas Thursdays; Grill Fridays and Run Down Saturdays. Eleita's also serves a variety of salads, including chicken, shrimp, garden, potato and fruit.
Whilby admitted that in the beginning it was difficult to combine managing a restaurant and his music career because of all the time and effort he had to put in to make both projects work. Today, he says, things are proceeding smoothly with the help of his chef Johnnie McQueen and restaurant manager Dwayne Murphy.
Location: 7 Goodwood Terrace, Kingston 10 (Off Constant Spring Road)
Tel: 827-5264 or 264-9149