V.O.D.A Lounge reopens less than a month after fire
Portmore restaurant pushing taste, flavour with new menu items
On August 24, 2023, business owner Rashede Denniston received a call that would shake him to his core. His restaurant – V.O.D.A Lounge – had experienced an electrical fire. Picking up the pieces from the extensive damage caused, the restaurant reopened less than a month later with the aim of presenting even bolder and more unforgettable flavours to entice your taste buds.
“We now have the spicy oxtail tacos on the menu, as well as the shrimp white wine Alfredo pasta, barbecue pork chops, surf and turf, which is lobster and pork chops and smoked lamb chops, just to name a few,” Denniston told Food. Then there are returning favourites like the lobster special and the lobster mac and cheese. It is important to note that all the seafood offerings are served fresh.
Prior to the fire, Denniston became a restaurateur four years ago. An accountant by profession, he has quite a number of clients in the restaurant industry that he has helped to achieve financial success, later deciding that it was his time to take home a piece of the pie.
That incentive was only fuelled by his pure unadulterated love for food. Growing up, he spent most of summers and Christmases working in his aunt’s restaurant. And these days, he considers himself the ultimate foodie. “I love oxtail. My new favourite is lamb chops. It’s heaven on earth for me nowadays. And I love pastas too,” he added.
UPS AND DOWNS
But business has always presented its share of ups and downs. According to Denniston, before there was the COVID-19 pandemic, St Catherine and Clarendon were under lockdown for three months. Freedom was seen in December of 2019, only for the restaurant to close doors once again in March when Jamaica recorded its first case of COVID-19. From there, the company took its time to pivot in the virtual space, hosting live content on social media to remain relevant in the foodie space.
Once the island returned to its new normal, V.O.D.A (Vibez Of Di Acres) Lounge, located in Sovereign Village in Portmore, St Catherine, became an oasis for an audience seeking to entertain their taste buds in a quaint and stylish setting.
Open every day, each night has a unique theme at play for the palate. Mondays are all about date nights. Once you order a main course and get a free glass of wine. Tuesdays are 2-4-1 pasta specials – any pasta you order, the other one is free. While Wednesday is seafood night. Past the hump, as the week approaches the weekend, the food makes way for the vibes with Girls Night Thursdays, which features the intoxicating cocktail tree. Then it’s off to Vibez Fridays, VIP Saturdays and Chill Sundays.
“The weekend is more for those ranging from ages 18 to 30 years of age. The music is a bit higher on those days,” he added.
Denniston shared that the fire sparked his drive to reopen as quickly as possible. “I have an amazing staff member who came the next day, helped with clearing out everything and we got to work on the renovations,” he added.
Although he was unable to pay out a full salary for the end of August, he was well aware of the back-to-school rush. “I had to factor that in to see what compensation I could give them while the restaurant is closed and we’re spending money to reopen. I still managed to pay them, not in full salary. We’re a family. We usually lock the lounge annually for a staff treat. Everything we do here is premium, for our customers and for our staff as well.”
The hope, going forward, is to deliver great taste and of course, continue the ‘vibez’ as well as improve and innovate in culinary creativity. “We have more in store for our customers, so just wait and see,” he added.