Welcoming, hospitable, and vibrant.
This is exactly how Jonathan Serrette describes the newly opened Café Jobee (pronounced Jo-bay), a family run business located at 60 Eastern Main Road, San Juan, next to the Muslim Credit Union.
The café, which officially opened November 1, is owned by Serrette and Darrion Narine—first cousins— and named in honour of their grandparents’ legacy.
Leslie Augustine Narine and his wife Savitri owned a small shop on Ryan Street, San Juan in 1972. “He gave every customer a name and told them he had the patience of Job. Eventually ‘Mr Job’ became ‘Mr Jobee,’ and his wife was called ‘Mrs Jobee.’ Leslie died in 1994 and Savitri passed in 2009. Forty-nine years later, two of their grandsons have revived the legacy,” Serrette explained.
Both originally from San Juan, Narine and Serrette always dreamt of opening a café in their honour.
“Johnny [Jonathan] and I spoke about it for years, but God cleared the path and we decided to walk forward,” Narine told Catholic News.
Narine (right) is the Programme Coordinator of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice/Archdiocesan Ministry for Migrants and Refugees.
He shared that as a family-run business, all hands are on deck, as they all share responsibilities from cleaning to cooking to stacking the fridge.
“As we often say, we are the chief dishwashers. We also have a fantastic team. They are the heart of the business, and we get a lot of support from our family and friends, which really does go a long way,” Narine said.
Café Jobee offers burgers, paninis, coffees, punches, smoothies, and boba or bubble tea (tea with tapioca pearls). They also have brownies, muffins, cookies, and other sweet treats.
The most popular food item on the menu, according to Narine, is the Trini Boy Banton which is a fully loaded burger named after one of their cooks, Chef Aaron De Matas. The most popular drink is the “famous” bubble tea, Strawberry Boba.
So, what makes Café Jobee unique? According to Serrette, Café Jobee offers a few options on its menu that most cafes don’t such as the bubble tea. Narine, added, “I think people enjoy the taste of the food and the friendliness of the staff. We have some really great souls working there and there is always a positive energy. I would like to believe that the Holy Spirit is with us and that makes a huge difference because it helps with our customer service and our cooking,” he said.
Serrette mentioned though the support and love has been “overwhelming,” the opening of Café Jobee was no easy accomplishment.
Narine explained, “Many challenges were faced. It definitely was not an easy process. We had to balance budgets and, at some points, we didn’t even know where we would find the money to finish. However, where there is a will, there is a way, and God definitely made a way.”
While both have no formal experience in the food industry, Serrette added that they both “love” to cook and he grew up as the “household punch man.”
Café Jobee opens Monday to Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 3 – 9 p.m.
Of their future plans for the small business: simply to make people happy. “So, the vision would be to create more spaces where people feel relaxed and at ease while getting their belly full,” Narine said.
Serrette, however, has bigger plans. “Our future plan for the business is to expand and have multiple cafes all over Trinidad and hopefully in other countries,” he said.
Narine’s advice to persons dreaming of opening a small business is this:
You have to be willing to put in the hours and you have to ensure that your customer service skills are always top.
It is also important to practise discipline and ensure that you are organised.
He shared that he and Serrette prayed a Novena before opening, “so I would suggest that as well.”
Additionally, he stressed, never forget God when you gain success and never forget about the poor and vulnerable.
“Your work should always be an offering to God. To know God in your work is to know true happiness,” Narine said.