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Recognise downtown Kingston as a gem

Published:Thursday | April 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Restaurateur Jacqui Tyson (left) represents the Kingston business community during a press conference to launch the 140th anniversary celebrations of Kingston as the nation's capital. Looking on are Joylene Griffiths-Irving of Scotiabank and Morin Seymour, chairman of the Kingston Restoration Company. - Ian Allen/Photographer
  • Restaurateur wants Jamaicans to change mindset about this section of city

WITH PLANS to stage a major food festival in Kingston during Heritage Week in October, one popular restaurant operator is working feverishly to change the mindset of some Jamaicans about downtown Kingston.

Restaurateur Jacqui Tyson says the festival is designed for everyone in the city, from the small vendor at Coronation Market to the large businessman.

It is being proposed that booths be set up in the downtown area, with the closure of some streets to accommodate day and night events.

"For you to have a stall, you must be downtown," Tyson explained.

"It is my wish to have a full festival. It will involve the spirit of our island, the spirit of our people - our music, sound, visuals - and make downtown a complete walkthrough area with tents and purveyors, and music and food and be a celebratory moment," she said.

"I want to say to the rest of Kingston and the world, downtown is where it's at, things will be great when you go downtown."

Tyson was making a presentation yesterday during a press conference to launch activities to mark the 140th anniversary of Kingston as the nation's capital. The ceremony was held at the offices of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation.

The restaurant operator, who is the resident concessionaire at the Jamaica Conference Centre, said her greatest joy was to service her clients in downtown.

Diverse clientele

"I have had restaurants in the cool hills of Stony Hill. I have had restaurants in the plains of Liguanea, the pulsating areas of where there is a hub, and nowhere have I found a more diverse clientele. I could be serving the owner of a stall in Coronation Market, I could be serving a handyman and I could be serving Mr (Bruce) Bowen at Bank of Nova Scotia all in one day. Nowhere in the world do you have that but downtown."

Tyson wants some Jamaicans to erase the negative mindset they have about downtown and to see the city as "a gem, a marketing tool and a highlight for Kingston and its environs".

She said: "We are not the only thing great about Kingston, but we are the biggest thing that's great about Kingston."