Chicago native Angela Lots moved to Flint for her husband’s sake. After 15 years of being in Chicago, he wanted to move back to his hometown to be closer to family, and Lots conceded.
“A couple of weeks into living here, I asked if he could take me to a Jamaican restaurant and he said, ‘we don’t have one,’” says Lots. “I said, ‘We can open one,’ and he said, ‘there you go with another idea.’”
Although her plans didn’t immediately come to fruition, she kept the idea in the back of her mind. While running her nonprofit Faith Foundations Resources, Lots was working with a realtor to move to a new location.
“My realtor sent me a spot about a mile away from our old location and when I pulled into the parking lot, God said ‘There is your Jerk Chicken restaurant,’” says Lots. “We talked to the owner and three months later the deal went through.”
It took Lots about a year from the day she bought the location to get up and running. With a loan from Metro Community Development, Lots rebuilt the old Subway restaurant into her Jamaican restaurant that she believed Flint desperately needed.
In September 2022, ATL Jamaican Jerk opened its door with a soft opening before going on hiatus for the holidays. The restaurant recently reopened and is welcoming in customers excited to see new cultural food in the area.
What is your proudest moment?
Seeing people come in and say, “We needed something like this in our community,” and, “Thank you for opening something like this in Flint.” That is what I am most proud of – that they like the food!
Why did you decide to open this in Flint?
I wanted to expose the people of Flint to this cuisine.
How would you describe Flint & Genesee to an outsider?
It’s people who love their community and are dedicated to it. I have found the most dedicated people in Flint. They are proud of their heritage and roots, and it makes me feel proud to be a part of it, too.
What is your business philosophy?
Treat people the way you want to be treated. I am a firm believer in the golden rule. I don’t want people to patronize me just because I am an African American-owned business. I want people to patronize me because I give great service!
Where do you like to eat in Flint & Genesee?
I like all the taco places – I love tacos! I patronize La Familia a lot. I like 501 Bar & Grill; they do a fish taco that is so good. Churchill’s Food & Spirits has good soup. The new restaurant in the Hilton, Sauce, has dessert to die for.
When I am on Miller Road, I like to go to Taboon and Mongolian Barbeque, and Olive Garden – if I invite you to lunch it’s Olive Garden soup and salad.
Why did you become a Chamber member?
It is good exposure for your business and a good networking opportunity. Joining the Chamber is a good way to keep up with what is happening in the community. I have met people through the Chamber that I am now friends with, and we do lunch once a month!
What advice would you offer other business owners or future entrepreneurs?
Never give up on your dream. It took five years for this to come to fruition!
For more information on ATL Jamaican Jerk, visit ATLJerkToGo.com.