Your South Jersey Podcast
April 12, 2023

Shanti Restaurant

- Jamaican restaurant on North Pearl Street serves curry chicken, goat curry, chicken, beef patties, fried chicken, and fried dumplings.:
Khadija is the daughter of the owners of Shanti Restaurant on North Pearl Street in Bridgeton.
- She's here to chat with us about the family business.
- She recommends the jerk chicken, curry chicken, and goat as the best items on the menu. Her grandma is a major part of the operation and always there cooking.

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Shanti Restaurant is located at 694 Pear Street North, in Bridgeton, NJ. You can call 856-470-2500 for takeout. Open 7am - 7pm Monday thru Saturday.

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 Ended up taking over the restaurant himself. But we had to close down on 49 and we moved to Pearl Street. And that's how we started Jamaican restaurant. And we started to get known on 49, but we started to lose customers because we had to shut down for, like, about a year. When was it that you shut down? I think 3s 2020 do. Okay. So you guys just moved up to North Pearl Street? Yes. And what's the address there? 694 North Pearl Street. Okay, so that's going out it's on the left hand side if you're going out from Birchedon, right? Correct. Yeah. So tell me about the restaurant. I've never had Jamaican food. I want to hear about it. I was hoping you'd bring me a snack today. 1s It's pretty good. We have oxtail curry goat curry chicken. We serve, like, size order rice and beans or white rice with cabbage and fried platinum. We also have patties chicken or beef. We also have fried chicken, and we have fried dumplings and pork and fish, red snapper and all that stuff. So go back to the oxtail. What is that? Because I've heard about that. I think it's come from a cow. I think so. Okay. And how is that cooked? Same thing like meat. It's like they boil it and same thing with meat. Okay. Is that a traditional Jamaican dish? Yeah. Is that like, one of your most popular items? No, curry chicken is the most popular peeler one. Yeah. So is that the main spice in Jamaican cooking? Curry? 1s Or one of the main spices? Yeah, that's definitely the main spice. Everybody loves that curry chicken. Yeah, the main spice there. So who does the cooking? Mostly my grandma. Okay. So tell me about your grandma. Well, she's 76 and that's her only job that she had. So she loves cooking. That's her only thing that she loves to do. 2s Did she basically a cook for the family before your dad got involved in this business? 1s Yes, I think she was the first person to know about the owner with the first place, and then my dad ended up taking over because she's like up in age now. 1s So did she work with the other owner? Yes, before my dad came around. Okay, so she worked for the other owner and then your dad got involved and then it moved to North Pearl. Why did they move up to North Pearl Street? The owner just wanted to shut down the owner's wife wanted to shut down the restaurant since he passed away, so she said that she didn't want the place anymore, so she sold it. Okay. So you guys are fairly new at the location that you're at right now? Yeah. Okay. Do most people come and eat in or do they do takeout mostly or what? It's mostly takeout. Yeah. So do you cook? 1s Ah, I cook curry chicken. That's about it. Tell me how you cook it. Well, we have the curry seasoning with chicken seasoning, 1s onion powder. 1s I don't really know the other names, but yeah, that's the only things that I know. I have to get some pictures so we can add to you don't have any pictures with you now, do you? No, I don't. Okay. All right, well, I want some pictures so we can put them up so we can check it out. So the curry chicken so if somebody like me has never had Jamaican food and wants to check it out, you would recommend the curry chicken as the for me, I would recommend the curry goat, but the curry goat, yes. 2s But mostly people think curry chicken is better because if somebody hears goat, they think it's probably nasty because they hear goat and they say, no, I don't want to try it, but I like the goat. That's my favorite food from there. Really? Okay. I think I might have to try goat. Where do you have to ask? Where do you get the goat from? Sea town down the street? Yeah. It's pretty expensive though. Is it? Why do you think you like the goat better? Is that just something that you had growing up or you just like the taste of it? What is it? Is it like a white meat or a dark meat? Dark meat, but I don't know. It's just like a different taste other than chicken. Chicken all the time. Right, I get that. So do you think do you cook there? Do you help? No, like the rice and the cabbage and the fried plant and that's the only thing I would stay with because I'm going to just let my grandma, my dad do their job with the meat and stuff because I don't know how to do that yet. Do you I'm do you think you're going to want to learn to cook and move out or no? Yeah, when my grandma retires, I would have to take over her spot soon enough. So you're kind of in training? Yeah. Do you like being in the kitchen? 2s That's a hard it's a hard job. Like, I'm really impressed. I would like to meet your grandma. 2s I like the kitchen sometimes, but I would rather prefer the cashier to tell them to recommend what they need to try and stuff like that. Because I know all the foods and what it tastes like. Because sometimes customers ask, what should I try? Sometimes they're new and don't know what to try, so I like to tell them what it's made of and how they make it and stuff like that. So when you're kind of in the front at the cashier, you can do that? Yeah. Tell them what best to try. Even though sometimes they just still stay with curry chicken. Even if I tell them to try curry goat curry chicken sounds safer. I guess you do. But it's just curry chicken. I don't really see the hype about it. It's just curry chicken. 2s So what are the hours like? Your grandma is there. She's the main chef, her and your dad. That's a hard thing to do. What are the hours and how long does she have to get in before it opens? And how long does she have to stay after it closes? They first open at six, but they don't open the rest? No. Six in the morning? Yeah, they open at six and start cooking. And then we rake usually open at seven, and then we close at 07:00 p.m.. So seven to seven every day? Yes. Wow. Do you serve different, like, breakfast items or. 3s We have a thing called kalaloo, or we have aki, and we have aki and saw fish together. But I don't enjoy those. I don't like it. So tell me about each of those. They're considered breakfast items? Yes. Okay. I've never heard of them. Tell me about kalaloo is like, greens, and you can eat it with, like, fried dumpling. And aki is the same thing. You can eat it with anything, like rice and stuff. Like, it's like a yellow, yellow, yellow with peppers and stuff like that inside of starch. No, it's not. No. I don't know how to really explain it, but my parents enjoy it. They eat it, like, every morning, basically. 1s And what's it called again? Aki. Aki? Yeah. Or they make it with saltfish and we say aki and sawfish. Okay. I think I need a picture of that. It they cook it only on Saturdays, I believe. Saturday mornings for people. So it's like a specialty? Yeah. Do you have regulars that come in? Yeah, we do. Sometimes they're family members that are all the way from Delaware or something like that. Really? 2s There's not really any other Jamaican restaurants in the area. Is that right? There's one in Violin that I know of, but people always come and say they don't really enjoy how they enjoy ours. So this is a real local specialty that no one else has? Yeah. That's fantastic. So you guys moved up on Pearl Street on 2022, so that was pretty much after COVID. So your dad didn't have the business during COVID He got it after? Yeah, after. It was hard to find different places because at first he was just trying to find a new job, but then I tried to convince him to, like, you got to open the restaurant because there's people who would still try to support you with the restaurant. So that's how he opened it back up and we found a place. Did he always cook? Was that something that he always loved to do? Every Sunday after church, he would always cook, and he probably learned that from your grandma. Sounds like you're next in line. 2s I hope not. Just because it's a hard life or really hard. I don't know how she did it. I did it for a whole week with her and I was just like, I don't know how my parents do that. Yeah, it's very hard. I mean, anybody that's worked in the restaurant industry streets. 2s It's you're never not working, especially on Fridays. It's everybody always wants jerk chicken. It's it's always every day. Is that the most popular item that people buy, the jerk chicken on Fridays? Yes. Okay, so jerk chicken and curry chicken are two different types of chicken? Yeah. The jerk chicken, you cook it on a grill, and it's like a dark meat, and then curry chicken is just chicken. It but just curry on it. Nice. 2s So only your dad and only your grandma are there. 1s They never get a day off? No. 2s Basically, the reason why we won't hire another employee is because we're not making enough money to pay for another person. So that's why we wanted to keep getting our business, keep going until we make the right amount of money to ask for another person if they wanted to work with us. But we just haven't got to that point yet. Yeah. It's like with any business, anybody that has a business will tell you it's that 1s when to add on, when to expand. It's hard. You got to make enough to pay, keep the lights on. Right. So and. 1s I think. I think the restaurant industry particularly is hard, but if you get a really nice following, you get regulars that come in all the time that even if they're just getting the same thing all the time, the jerk chicken or the curry chicken, then you develop that following. But it's really about getting the word out to somebody in town that might not know about it or have heard about it. It's a really good location. It is. Yeah. I mean, you've got you got a parking lot. Do you have tables in there? If people wanted to sit? Yeah, we have two little tables inside of there. Okay. Has your family ever thought about adding more tables so that people could eat in, or do you not see a desire for people to do that? Mostly people just enjoy the takeouts because some people pick it up for work, or they just pick it up for dinner with their family and stuff. They don't really think about sitting down, if anything. It's mostly, like, close people, like regular people who comes every day to sit down and talk to my dad at the tables all the time. Like a hangout? Yeah. And just chat. Yeah. We should have actually done this there. 1s So tell me a little bit more about your grandma, because it seems like she's kind of the inspiration behind all of this. 1s Do you call her Grandma, or what do you call her? Well, at the shop, we call her Mama. That's how we call her 1s sometimes. She can be strict with certain things. Like, if you don't do something right in the kitchen, she goes off on you. I understand that because sounds like a good grandma. Yeah. One time I had messed up the cooking, and I gave this person too much rice, and she went crazy on me in the kitchen. I was just like, oh, I didn't know there's, like, certain amount they give, so I didn't know that. So I was just trying to help her out because we had, like, a long line that day. It was a Friday. Fridays are busy days, and she was just going crazy. Well, yeah, she probably wants to keep it consistent. Yeah. We ended up raining out anyways. Now, where was she born? Jamaica in Kingston. Okay. And then do you know how old she was when she came here? Does she ever talk to you about that? No, but she learned how to cook in Jamaica. Yeah. Okay. So it's authentic Jamaican food for sure, which. 2s As we've said, there's not much around here. So what do you want else you want to tell us about the business? Anything else you want to share with us? 2s No. Tell me the address again. 694 North Pearl Street. 694 North Pearl Street. I have a question. Are there any other family members that help out or is it just it's just me. Okay. Just you. Your dad and your and your my grandma. Yeah. Nice. Does the audience have any questions? We have a studio audience here today. Anything that I forgot about? The question is about the jerk chicken. If it's so popular on Friday night, why do they only choose to make it Friday night? That's a great question. Yeah, so the question in case the camera didn't pick up is the jerk chicken, 2s if it's one of your 1s most popular items, why is it only served 3s getting some feedback? I don't know why that is, 8s but in any event, I'll repeat it again. If it's such a popular item, then why is it only once a week? Well, it takes, like, about an hour and 30 minutes to make, and we're always busy, so we don't have enough time to make it 24/7 every day. So that's why we only make it on one day only. And that's Fridays takes an hour and 30 minutes to make? Yeah. How come? How do you do it? Well, it's very huge, so I don't know why it takes that long, but it's huge and it takes, like, a certain amount of heat to make. What part of the chicken? 2s Um is it like a whole chicken? No. Okay. It's I think it's I don't know which part it is. Okay. So you're basically bone in cooking it. Bone in? Yeah. Okay. And it's cooked, you said on grill. On the grill, yeah, outside. Oh, outside. So it's, like, slow cooked. Yeah. I see. It takes long. Got it. So it's a real specialty item. So that on the menu today? Yes, it is. Okay. And so right now, is that cooking? Yeah. Really? And it's right out back that you guys cook it. Your grandma's out there cooking on the grill right now? Yeah. And my dad's at church right now, so he's probably the only one out there. Okay. Excellent. All right. Good question. Any other questions that we have? I hello? I might have to swing up the North Pearl Street in a while. Interview your grandma. She probably would love that. But she what is her full name? Herma Daily. What is it again? Herma Daily. Herma Daily. Her first name is herma last name is Daily. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, maybe we'll get hermal on the mic. You most likely leave my dad on the mic, too, but what's your dad's name? Rupert Williams. Rupert Williams. Yes. He couldn't make it today, but okay. Well, we're glad that you're here. Representing for Shanti Restaurant up on North Pearl Street. And what's the phone number up there? 5s 470-2500. 3s Say it again. 3s We'll get it. Put it up on the screen to make sure everybody's 1s do. People call in and place their orders ahead of time. Yeah, down to prison. They always call down on Wednesdays and Saturdays for deliveries. Which prison? 2s I think the one in Gutown Fairton. Got you. 1s 856-470-2500. Yes, 8564-7047-0250-0250-0. 2s And we're recommending the 4s jerk chicken, the curry chicken, and if you're brave, try the goat. Right. Is your mom involved in that business at all, or no? No, she just eats there like regular people. Do you ever get tired of it? No. Because I'm sure you eat all that. This is what you eat all the time, right? All the time, every day. Excellent. Okay. All right. Well, I appreciate you coming in and joining us here today for our 1s I don't know if I should have probably started with this, but two years ago I started a podcast, which was just audio and audio podcast that basically, I tried to interview people here in Bridgetton that were doing really neat things, whether they be, like business owners or restaurant owners or anybody. And that was exactly two years ago. And we've tried to now expand into some video. So you are our first video guest representing Shanti Restaurant. So thank you again for taking the time on your day off to come over and sit and chat with me. You are welcome. Anybody you want to give a shout out to before we sign off? Oh, 2s give a shout out to my dad and my grandma for their hard work in for 16 years. Well, 17 now. Yeah, it's about it excellent. Family owned businesses in Bridgetton, particularly as in many places, but I think in Bridgeton particularly, are kind of the life blood of what's kept a lot of the local restaurants going. So excited to check out Shanti restaurant right up on North Pearl Street. Hopefully you check it out today. I will. I'm going to ride up there today. Thank you very much, Khadija. You're welcome. See you.