A woman who spent her last £15 buying ingredients to cook a meal which she then sold to a friend during lockdown has opened her own restaurant. Abbie Owens, 44, a former dental nurse, moved to the Caribbean food business because she was unable to work during the height of coronavirus restrictions in 2020.
Within two years his business grew from cooking for a friend to a market stall and then to his own restaurant, The Jerk Shop, in Denton, Greater Manchester. She says she still can’t believe it and it doesn’t seem real, reports the Manchester Evening News.
“I’ve kind of plunged into the depths, but I’m so happy to have a home. It’s a great environment. Every day I come here is like Christmas morning,” he said. she declared.
When the UK went into quarantine two years ago, Abbie, who worked as a self-employed dental nurse, found herself unable to work and not entitled to furlough pay. Short on cash and with no savings to speak of, she taught herself several recipes from YouTube videos.
With just £15 under her belt, she decided to put her skills to the test and bought some ingredients to cook a meal. When she uploaded a photo of her efforts to Facebook, a friend was so impressed he offered to buy the food.
Word spread quickly and Abbie was serving dozens of meals a day in her small kitchen at home. As business boomed, she found space at a local cafe in the evenings and used the money she had managed to save for a vacation to cover the rent. In November 2020 Abbie moved the operation to Hyde Covered Market.
The Jerk Stop quickly attracted a loyal following for its popular dishes, including curried goat and jerk chicken with rice and steamed vegetables. But, because Abbie wanted to serve food and make deliveries in the evening, after market opening hours, she decided to look for another venue last August.
Stays at Masons Arms in Dukinfield and a site in Marple didn’t work out, so Abbie briefly returned to dental work to raise money for a trailer. However, the cost of feeding the trailer made the business financially unviable.
Abbie said she had ‘almost lost everything’ before she stumbled upon an empty former cafe in Gibraltar Lane, Haughton Green, earlier this year. She moved into the building on May 11 and hasn’t looked back since.
The interior of the site has been refurbished with recycled furniture while Abbie employs a small team, including her 21-year-old daughter, and several delivery drivers. Its expanded menu now includes lamb chops and salmon dishes, and Abbie says business has been booming since it opened.
“It’s been very busy,” she said. “I work 18, 19 hour days but it’s worth it. I’m not making a fortune but business is doing very well.
“I didn’t even expect to have a stall in the market, so the last thing I imagined was having my own shop.”
The Jerk Stop is open Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.