In Dining

Jewels Caribbean Restaurant will open in the former Playmakers space.

Jewels Caribbean Restaurant on the docket for MLK Drive

A new restaurant specializing in eastern Caribbean fare is on its way to the former Playmakers space, 2230 N. Martin Luther King Dr., potentially as soon as December or January.

Owner Lennora Jules is a Milwaukee native currently working in the music industry in Los Angeles. Her parents, Lucile and Selo, are originally from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, and Jules says the restaurant's menu will incorporate both family recipes and traditional Saint Lucian dishes.

"I really feel like in Milwaukee there's this really cool, hip indie culture that has been nurtured by things like Summerfest and the East Side," says Jules. "And people really love variety and have an interest in diverse art and culture. But you can't really get a true Caribbean experience, including the music and dance, unless you drive to Chicago or fly to the islands."

In keeping with that experience, Jules says the restaurant will be decorated with a Caribbean theme that offers guests a tropical escape.

"We want them to feel like they're entering a different world," she explains. "We want to create a place where people can really sit down and feel as if they're on vacation, even if it's just for an hour or two."

Jewels' menu will feature Caribbean style curries with proteins including chicken and goat, along with fresh seafood like salmon, shrimp and whitefish infused with Saint Lucian flair. There will also be dishes flavored with jerk spices including a signature burger and jerk chicken wings.

Items like papaya salad, guava turnovers, fish cakes, cassava and fried yucca and plantains will also make an appearance. Desserts will include selections like rum cake and mango pie.

"We'll be hiring a chef and general manager," notes Jules, "But, at its heart the restaurant will be family-run."

Jules says she will employ her talents in the music industry to arrange for bookings of live music including Caribbean bands and DJs.

She says she's excited about the prospect of bringing something new to Milwaukee, based on her family's background and experience. And she says that, in light of the burgeoning development Downtown, she's glad to be a part of the growth and revival of the area.

"Milwaukee has so many really cool pockets," says Jules. "And I feel like small businesses are really what's going to make the city grow. I'm really happy to invest in that and be part of that growth."

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