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October 23, 2022

When Ripton Hunter came to Rochester from Montego Bay, Jamaica in 2005, he knew he wanted to open a restaurant.

“Cooking has been my first love. I’ve always wanted a Jamaican place,” Hunter said.

Hunter owns Three Little Birds Jamaican Food at 651 Jefferson Ave., where he works with his mother Patsy, his aunt and his girlfriend. He is one of many first-generation immigrants who brought a part of their home to Rochester through the food he cooks.

With an entire wall lined with shelves of common sauces like Frank’s Red Hot as well as rare spices imported from New York City, Three Little Birds doubles as a small spice shop for those looking to use the same flavors Hunter uses in his own cooking.

Whether you’re tasting the oxtail or the classic Jamaican Jerk Chicken, the classic flavors of Jamaica take center stage with every bite.

Difficulties in running a restaurant

Three Little Birds Jamaican Food is located on the corner of Columbia Ave. and Jefferson Ave., a notorious

“Everybody was like, ‘Don’t go to Jefferson, it’s a bad area,'” Hunter said. “People worry about the violence in Jefferson.”

Despite the street’s checkered reputation, Hunter is happy with the store’s location.

“This is just a godsend … It’s a nice block for me. Nobody’s coming to disrespect me or anything,” Hunter said. “It’s just word of mouth bad news.”

“Cooking has been my first love. I’ve always wanted a Jamaican place”

With inflation rates at their highest

“When I started four years ago, oxtail was about $4.99 a pound, now it’s $8.99, $9.99, $10.99. Goat went from $9.99 a bag to $19 a bag,” Hunter said .

Even the prices of items given out for free by restaurants as takeout containers are starting to increase in price, and Hunter is paying an extra $54 for a case of takeout containers — $54 that could have been spent buying ingredients or catering themselves and their families.

For a business in a low-income area, higher prices can result in a significant loss of customers and profits.

Josiah Dannert is one of the managers at Naan-Tastic, a Chipotle-style Indian restaurant on Marketplace Dr. in Henrietta. Before becoming the manager at several Naan-Tastic locations, Dannert managed other restaurant chains, such as Chipotle and Distillery.

Despite all the time spent in food service, Dannert is cautious about trusting the food industry.

“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a lifelong job for anyone. I don’t think anyone, unless they own [a restaurant], should stay in the food industry,” Dannert said. “I probably wouldn’t own a restaurant just because of how much I know it takes to run one.”

The number of restaurants across the country has risen to over one million despite hesitation from people in the industry, and has generated over

How diverse is Rochester’s food?

Dannert is not impressed with the amount of diversity in Rochester’s food options.

“There are way too many burger and steak places … I just feel like we have the same thing everywhere,” Dannert said.

Having varied food options means not only being able to taste different combinations of flavors and spices, but also being able to connect with people from these cultures and backgrounds. Owning a Jamaican restaurant has allowed Hunter to connect more with the Jamaican population in Rochester.

“I meet so many people from Jamaica. It brings people together. “I didn’t know there were so many Jamaicans in Rochester,” Hunter said. “I meet more people, I meet good friends, good customers come.”

“I don’t think anyone, unless they own [a restaurant], should stay in the food industry”

Cultural diversity provides other benefits in addition to a variety of foods. ONE

Another study from the Journal on Migration and Human Security also found that first-generation immigrants are too

Rochester is filled with restaurants that serve a wide variety of food from different places and cultures. Zemeta Ethiopian Restaurant on South Clinton Ave. has a wide selection of traditional Ethiopian food at an affordable price.

Any place that serves an item called “spaghetti and goat” is a place worth visiting. Somali African cuisine serves traditional sambusa (similar to an Indian samosa), as well as spaghetti along with many different types of meat, including beef, chicken leg, lamb shank and goat.

Just Chik’n is located inside Jefferson Plaza, just a minute or two drive from RIT, and the Peruvian spices taste better than any fast food chicken available. Their classic combo meal, a whole rotisserie chicken, two sides, a drink and an alfajor biscuit for $16 is a great choice after a long day of classes.

Billy’s Homestead, a personal recommendation from Hunter, is a breakfast spot on Empire Blvd. in Webster, NY. Billy’s Homestead is owned by Billy, an immigrant from Greece, and serves breakfast in the sun starting at 6:30 each morning.

While it’s hard for many people to break their comfort food habits, trying foods from different cultures while supporting first-generation immigrants can create connections that will last a lifetime.