RanDe Rogers basically grew up in this restaurant, but he never foresaw himself owning it as an adult. He was on the business track in college, and when he graduated from Tufts University in 2012, he planned to join his father's consulting business in North Carolina. However, his mother was struggling to keep Sisters Caribbean Cuisine afloat at the time, so he chose to help her, instead. Originally, the plan was for RanDe to handle customer service, social media, and to help expand the restaurant's capabilities. After a year, however, RanDe found himself taking on increasing responsibilities in the restaurant, including the role of chef. He had had a passion for cooking since childhood, so he relished the opportunity to run the kitchen. The restaurant was opened in 1993 on 124th Street by RanDe's mother, Marlyn Rogers, who was raised in Guyana but emigrated to the US for college. She was one of fourteen siblings, some of whom helped her open and run the business in the beginning, which is what gave Sisters its name. By staying true to its roots, the family-owned business has stood the test of time. During the summer of 2017, the Manhattan Sideways team had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with RanDe. Listening to his recommendations, we tried the jerk chicken, a Caribbean staple, as well as the oxtail stew, which RanDe told us is one of their most popular dishes. In addition, we sampled an array of their vegetarian options, including curried chick peas, mac and cheese, and even callaloo - a new, but delicious dish to several of us. As RanDe shared his story, we learned that RanDe's mom never wanted to spend time in the kitchen at home when he was growing up, since she spent long hours cooking for her customers. His father was a banker who would come home from work too late to cook, so RanDe had to fend for himself. In retrospect, this is what allowed him to acquire some skills in the kitchen and to foster a love for cooking early on. Funnily enough, he was never partial to making the soul food that Sisters is known for, because he would get tired of eating the leftovers his mother would bring home. He maintains, however, that this encouraged him to learn other styles of cooking and to gain an appreciation for various cuisines, which gives him the versatility as a chef that he benefits from today. Having taken over the day-to-day operations of the business, RanDe became the official owner as of January 2017 and has devoted himself to the restaurant, hand-selecting his staff and refining the menu. "With a bit more customer service and a bit more precision, we started seeing more traffic online and in the restaurant, " he was pleased to tell us. His mother, meanwhile, continues supporting her son and the business by designing the aesthetics, including their floral centerpieces and the color of the walls and drapes - a red to match the warmth and flare of their Caribbean theme. Sisters has gained increasing acclaim, and it was even featured on the cooking show "Huang's World. " The host and internationally recognized chef Eddie Huang recommended that Sisters be included in the lineup for the OZY Fest in Central Park. When we asked RanDe whether he has enjoyed the unexpected direction his career path has taken, he replied, “All my studies never gave me anything as rewarding as making food. ” He loves watching people eat and enjoy his restaurant, especially those customers who have been coming in since they were kids. “We treat everyone who eats with us like family. ”
Jasmine Gerald, Linda Salamon and Lloyd Hollie all wanted to be a part of bringing New York back during the Fall of 2020, while creating a home space where people can go in tough times. “I’m in the beauty business and Linda’s in real estate, ” Jasmine said. “So we had never been in the restaurant business before. This is all a new adventure for us. ” The trio transformed the inside and outside of the space that was formerly La Pulperia. Caty Wooley painted the eye-catching exterior mural. Indoors, the bright ambience continues with Caribbean music playing and a vibrant color scheme. And the restaurant’s menu is just as brilliant as its decor. Chef Whitney Callaway has created an authentically Caribbean menu with dishes like Ackee & Saltfish (with extra gravy optional), Rasta Pasta, and Loaded Plantain Chips. There are also many vegan options — including Jackfruit Curry with Quinoa and Jamaican Jerk Grilled Eggplant. “So many people are down. We want them to come in and see the bright colors and to make them happy. To remind them of the Caribbean, remind them of home. Even though some of us can’t get on a plane, we’re bringing joy and food to them here on Restaurant Row, ” Jasmine said. “We want to spread the love, one meal at a time. ”This story was adapted from the W42ST article, "Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine: “It’s gonna be all right. "