It was common in the early 2000s to see Colin Russell and Rexroy Scott making Jamaican food near the intersection of Lafayette and East Dunklin streets in Jefferson City. What started as two Lincoln University students cooking around a small grill in a parking lot quickly flourished into a popular Mid-Missouri food truck, Jerk Hut.
Jerk Hut will soon open in its first physical location in Jefferson City.
Jerk Hut is set to open by Feb. 1 at 112 E. Dunklin St., where Red Sky Chinese Bistro was located before closing in August 2019.
The Jerk Hut food truck is regularly parked at Best Buy in Jefferson City and Macadoodles in Columbia, as well as various festivals in Mid-Missouri. Along with the food truck, Russell and Scott operate a Jerk Hut take-out location in Columbia.
The food truck serves jerk products like chicken, wings and pork steaks. It also has curry chicken, beef patties, coconut rice, Jamaican sodas and Rasta lemonade.
While the physical location will have all of the same food as the food truck, it will also have new items like curry shrimp and goat, escovitch fish, oxtails, plantains and coleslaw.
"Jeff City has shown us a lot of love as far as support with the truck and people, so we're very excited to give the people what they want, a little bit bigger menu and some more Jamaican items they can try," Russell said.
Russell said they will operate the food truck weather permitting and when enough staff is available.
With the sound of hammering and drilling filling the fairly open space in late December, Russell pointed out the freshly painted red, green and yellow walls and new floors inside the East Dunklin Street location. The kitchen will soon receive a makeover, he added.
"It's a matter of making it more lively, give it that Caribbean and Jamaican feel so that when you come in here, it'll brighten up your day a little," Russell said.
While the Columbia take-out location seats only about 10 people, Russell said, the new Jefferson City location will seat at least 40.
Russell said he is unsure what the business hours for the East Dunklin Street restaurant will be.
Looking around Jerk Hut's new home, Russell said it's amazing how the business has evolved over almost two decades.
After having recently moved to Mid-Missouri from Jamaica, Russell and Scott frequently craved the Caribbean island's food and started making it, quickly attracting the attention of friends and community members.
They officially opened Jerk Hut in 2005.
"We've become part of the community, and people have made us part of their food choices now, so we expanded and we can always be here," he said.
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