Meet The Jamaican Couple Behind Reggae Wings and Tings
Roy and Marci LaBeach are long time Mesquite residents who have owned and operated Reggae Wings and Tings in Garland since 2013, and just recently they opened a Mesquite location.
The couple settled in the DFW area in 1987 and made their home in Mesquite in 1993.
What brought you to the United States?
Marci: I came here for college and I stayed. I went to college in Alabama. I was there four years and then we came out here to Texas.
What brought you to Texas?
Roy: I came here on vacation from New York, liked the place and decided to stay.
It was a change for the better though because the environment is different, it’s a friendlier environment which is something more like back home (Jamaica).
What was the biggest culture shock for you coming from New York?
Roy: I didn’t see anyone riding horses or cowboys, just 18-wheelers and the big trucks.
One thing that shocked me was when I went to the mall and people were saying, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ I never had that happen in New York.
What was the biggest culture shock for you when you came to the US for school?
Marci: The race because coming from Jamaica we go by nationality we don’t go by color of your skin. So when you come here, ‘it’s what color are you?’ and I’ve never really thought about that because we saw everyone pretty much the same.
When you opened your first restaurant what was the most challenging aspect of it?
Roy: It was challenging to get good staff.
Marci: We’ve both been in customer service all our lives so we have that people skill so customer service is no problem but just getting the staffing and getting the right staff in place. What we found was that a lot of people want to get paid but they don’t want to do the work that it takes to get paid.
Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
Marci: I had a client who owned that restaurant at the time and I did his payroll. He called and said he had a business proposition for us. He owned an African restaurant in that spot and we talked to him not knowing what he had in store and he thought a Jamaican restaurant would do good there and he wanted to know if we’d buy his business. Within 90 days we were a proud owner of a restaurant.
Describe the flavor of Jamaican food.
Hot and spicy. We’re known for the jerk chicken.
What are you hoping Mesquite residents will get from your restaurant?
Marci: The cultural experience. There’s different ethnicities but there’s no Jamaican flavor and we’re hoping to bring that to Mesquite. We know a lot of people travel to Jamaica it’s one of the no. 1 tourist destinations. They go there and they fall in love with the food – the jerk chicken and the jerk pork, and that’s the flavor we’re trying to bring here.
Roy: There are a lot of people who cook spicy food and say it’s Jamaican but you can’t taste that authenticity and that’s what we try to provide our customers.
Describe your culture in three words.
Fun, laid back and irie.
Roy: As they say, if ‘irie’ is a product then Jamaica is the manufacturer.
What are some things that you feel people may not know about Jamaican culture?
Roy: One of the main things that people don’t know about Jamaica is that it’s an English speaking country. Most people who hear our dialect do not stop to listen they just hear the accent and turn it off and say they don’t understand it.
Jamaica was colonized by the British and the slaves from Africa forged their dialect with the English language and that became our trademark dialect.
Who creates the menu items?
Marci: We do, everything is pretty standard to Jamaica but we’ve tweaked it, added to it and incorporate our own special seasonings to make it unique to Reggae Wings.
What’s your 5 year goal?
Marci: Our No. 1 goal is to be a franchise and right now we lease this place so within the next five years hopefully we’ll own the building.
Anything you’d like to add?
The reason we’ve been successful is because of our friends and family, couldn’t do it without them. When employees don’t show up sometimes our friends will come to get food and they’ll answer the phone and take orders for us. We’ve had family come from out of town like Atlanta, California, Florida, Houston and Jamaica just to help us.Original Story: Star Local Media