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Women of Distinction

Thalia Lyn gives hope to local producers

Island Grill holds its own against international franchises

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2021 | 9:48 PMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Thalia Lyn

When one thinks of Thalia Lyn, the terms philanthropist, esteemed businesswoman and trailblazer inundates the mind.

Thalia Geraldine Lyn, in 1991, founded the Island Grill chain of fast-food restaurants since the year 1991. Since then, the CEO has made a name for herself through innovative business tactics and a fierce attitude to work.

This is especially true for the restaurant sector, with Lyn making a notable impression on the field. But Lyn has also extended herself outward, adding her experience to organisations like the National Commercial Bank (NCB) where she serves as the chairperson for the NCB Foundation. Lyn is also a board member of the Mustard Seed Community and the St Patrick’s Foundation. In 2004 she was appointed Jamaica's Consul General to the United Kingdom of Thailand.

Lyn’s early career was spent outside of Jamaica, the restaurateur moving to Canada after marrying Ray Lyn. There, she worked at the University Savings Canadian Fund Equity. The transition was not automatic.

“I knew nothing about investments, so I took the mutual fund and Canadian Securities courses that enabled me to become an investment dealer and that's when I met Michael Lee-Chin who was with Regal Capital," she recalled.

"Michael's first words to me were, 'We are Jamaicans, so let's help each other.’ He started to sell the fund I was marketing and I introduced him to the Jamaicans I knew. We worked well together," said Lyn.

Lyn also worked as a teacher after her family made the move from Canada to Miami, Florida. The move wouldn’t stick though, and Lyn and family returned to Toronto in 1979 where Lyn returned to being a stock broker.

In 1981, Lyn returned to Jamaica, changing her career yet another time.

Lyn would start a dairy business, but diversified her portfolio, selling hamburgers, chicken and ribs. From that diversification came the formation of Chicken Supreme. It is a re-brand of Chicken Supreme that Jamaicans have come to know and love as the entity called Island Grill.

Island Grill has generated mass success and can be found in 18 locations across Jamaica, there is even a location at the Grantley Adams International Airport in Barbados.

The restaurant chain has held its own against big international franchises like KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s and the like, giving hope to local producers that once they produce quality products, there is more than enough space for them in any industry.

Lyn has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of the West Indies for her entrepreneurial success and unstinting philanthropy. She has also been inducted into the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica Hall of Fame. She has also been bestowed with the Commander of the Noblest Order to the Crown in Thailand.