When brothers Emelio Madden and Larenzo Douse launched Chicken & Tings in 2005, one of their dreams was to build the restaurant brand, which specialises in traditional Jamaican cuisine, into a household name. They took another step on that path recently with the opening of the brand’s fourth location in the Corporate Area.
The restaurant’s newest outlet sits on Shortwood Road in St Andrew, serving the nearby community of Grants Pen and other areas.
“The data from our research shows that the Grants Pen/ Shortwood Road community is requesting good quality meals at an affordable cost,” Madden told OBSERVER ONLINE, explaining the rationale behind the decision to open a restaurant at the location.
“We were also convinced that we could go in the community and make a much needed difference as our roots are from the inner-city and we know how to get along and work with (residents) through social interaction projects,” he added.
Having previously worked in the restaurant industry, Madden and Douse combined knowledge and experience to start Chicken & Tings, which they financed through personal savings.
“I was not able to see exactly what would happen, but I knew I wanted Chicken & Tings to become a household name. I knew I wanted to build a legacy for and with my family as well,” Madden recalled.
Delivering high quality service at an affordable cost to working class customers has been the foundation upon which Chicken & Tings has maintained its presence in the market for nearly 20 years, since the brothers opened their first restaurant in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
In addition to the flagship Half-Way-Tree location, Chicken & Tings also has restaurants in high traffic areas of Cross Roads and Manning’s Hill Road in St Andrew. Madden told OBSERVER ONLINE that the same research that led the brand to set up shop on Shortwood Road also points to Duhaney Park and Portmore as underserviced areas.
“Our immediate expansion plan is to grow from store to store, parish to parish, while still keeping the brand 100 per cent family owned. We are here to make a difference, not just to make a profit,” Madden said.
Madden, who hails from humble beginnings in the tough inner-city community of Waterhouse, St Andrew, said another one of his dreams when starting was to create jobs for people from “troubled communities”. The new Chicken & Tings outlet employs approximately 12 people, bringing the restaurant’s staff complement across four locations to approximately 50 people.
According to Madden, he would like the brothers’ story to help people see what they can achieve in a new light.
“We want our story to help people believe in possibilities, help them recommit to their vision, and inspire them to take action. We want them to know that regardless of their socio-economic background, their dreams are still valid,” Madden said.
“Simply put, every ghetto yute is a star, just him have to find it within himself. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.”