Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer
Very few restaurants make it past their first year of operation, and according to a study done by The Perry Group, the few who do generally go on to close their doors in the next three to five years. It is no wonder that Redbones Blues Café in New Kingston went all out for their 15th anniversary celebration.
Redbones has never been just a restaurant, though. Enola Williams, daughter of the owner and manager of Redbones, has been with the business through its entire 15-year journey and spoke of the restaurant's expansion into a cultural hub.
"We wanted to showcase jazz and blues music in Jamaica, because at that time there were no other jazz venues. Music and art have always been a part of my family's experience and so we decided to incorporate all of that into Redbones," Williams told The Gleaner.
Williams also added that the name 'Redbones' is an ode to her and her sister's mixed ethnicity and also highlights the venue's eclectic offerings.
On Wednesday night, 15 years of impeccable service, culture, art and entertainment culminated in what was originally meant to be a book launch, but expanded into something bigger.
"It started as a book launch. We just finished this 220-page hardcover coffee-table book that contains pieces that have been written by a number of poets, musicians, customers - people who are just a part of the Redbones family," Williams said. The book also contains a collection of photographs that highlight memories which have made Redbones a very special place for many, all recorded for posterity.
For Williams, Redbones has been 15 years of hard work and worthwhile rewards. The restaurateur revealed that the family business has nurtured her into a much more open and extroverted person, compared to the shy girl she was when the business just started out.
"I've met a number of incredible and exciting people because of Redbones. What's great about Redbones is that you might have a politician, a total rum head, an artiste and a banker, all coming together in one space to share in an experience," Williams added.
It was obvious from the huge turnout that there is a lot of goodwill towards Redbones. The night's celebration saw a host of well-wishers and artistes sharing their Redbones experiences and treating the audience to a few sensational performances.
The audience for the most part seemed to have been busy reliving their own personal Redbones experiences as they chatted and laughed their way through most of the performances. That is, until Jamaica's soul songbird, Tessanne Chin took the stage. Tessanne performed a short but captivating set and her performance of The Prayer with friend and fellow musician Michael Harris rivalled that of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.
Tessanne, along with all the other performers, thanked Redbones for providing an avenue for them and other artistes to freely showcase their craft.
Redbones has built a winning reputation around its live shows. On Thursdays, the venue showcases Jazz, world music and acoustic sets, Friday is known as rock, reggae and alternative night, and Redbones also hosts a film night for its customers, who vote on the film they would like to see.
The last Wednesday in every month is poetry night at Redbones, and next week the restaurant will be hosting its 12th annual Poetry Awards.