Melissa Smith opened her restaurant Island Delight to share the tantalizing tropical tastes of her Caribbean home and heritage with Montgomery.
Are you from Montgomery?
I am from Manchester, Jamaica, and I came here in 2000 to join my husband who was stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base.
When did you open Island Delight?
I opened in 2002. This came about after my husband asked me to make some jerk chicken for an office party for his squadron. The general at that time fell in love with it and suggested we open a restaurant.
Please describe the restaurant’s food and atmosphere.
At Island Delight, we serve authentic Caribbean food such as jerk chicken, jerked red snapper, beef oxtails, beef patties and a large selection of island juices, sodas and a natural juice bar. Our motto is “Your Passport to the Caribbean.” There is a sign outside that says, “Welcome to the Caribbean,” and upon entering, our guests feel as if they have escaped to a tropical island. The colors are as bright and vibrant as sunshine and the Caribbean Sea. If you listen carefully, you can hear Bob Marley singing in the background.
What is your main role?
Since this is our “mini-island,” I am the Prime Minister of Island Delight. However, I am also the main cook and event planner.
What’s the most popular dish?
Jerk chicken started out being our most popular dish, but now there is a tie between the jerk and beef oxtails. If I had to choose my favorite, it would be Escoveitch snapper.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Seeing the satisfied look on my customers’ faces and speaking to them. I have met a lot of amazing customers who I now consider family.
Awards: We recently won The Peoples’ Choice award at a Mardi Gras Cajun cookoff. Last year, we won the Peoples’ Choice award at Culinary Fight Club and got to go to The World Food Championship. And we were honored to receive the Small Business of the Year award from the SBDC.