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Jamaican food Riverhead

Shane and Dion Hope outside Shadees in Riverhead.(Credit: Nicole Smith)

Shadees Jamaican Takeout is not just Riverhead’s newest restaurant — it’s the realization of a nearly 30 year dream for co-owner Shane Hope. 

Leaving his native Jamaica to move to the United States in 1990, the Westhampton Beach resident has worked in numerous restaurants over the years, although always hoping to run his own place.

Now, with the help of their five children, Mr. Hope, 48, and his wife, Dion, opened Shadees on East Main Street last week.

“We knew it was needed, if not wanted, here,” Ms. Hope, 49, said of the authentic Jamaican cuisine she serves. “We travel to get a good taste of Jamaican food when we don’t want to cook. So knowing that it was needed definitely pushed us.”

With lines wrapping around the counter in the space, which also has limited seating upstairs for guests to dine upstairs despite takeout being in its name, Ms. Hope was right about there being a desire for Jamaican food in the Riverhead community.

“That’s how it’s been all day, just packed,” she said during an interview on Friday. “We did prepare a little bit more today, however, we ran out still.”

Mr. Hope works in the kitchen along with cook Dwight Shaw creating the food, which includes ox tail and fish — Ms. Hope’s favorite dishes — and jerk chicken, which he’s most proud of.

The couple recognize people might be hesitant to try Jamaican food since there aren’t any other authentic Caribbean restaurants in town. Mr. Hope’s approach is to focus more on the herbs and less on the spices, saying you can always add spices to a dish but you can’t take it away.

“Jamaican food is very tasteful,” Mr. Hope said. “It’s enlightening.”

Other dishes include Ackee and saltfish (a traditional Jamaican dish consisting of salt cod sautéed in boiled ackee fruit, onions, peppers, tomatoes and spices), stew peas (a combination of red kidney beans, stew beef, pig’s tail, milk, hot pepper and spices) and fish soup which is chock full of potatoes, fish, garlic, bananas and peppers.

This is the second time the couple have opened a restaurant. Ms. Hope said they opened a Jamaican restaurant nearby in 1993, but the timing wasn’t right. With nearly 25 years of experience since then, Ms. Hope said they’re excited to have another chance to fulfill their dream.

“I love to meet people,” she said, adding that Shadees gives her husband the chance to further pursue his passion of cooking. “I love great food and meeting people. This is what we’ve always wanted to do.”

Shadees — a combination of the couple’s names: “sha” for Shane and “dee” for Dion — will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 10, 11, 18, 19 and 20. The restaurant will be open daily beginning Thursday, May 25.