Pimento Jamaican Kitchen’s bright yellow walls radiate warmth as soon you step through the restaurant’s doors. When it’s “Minnesota outside, it’s Jamaica inside,” owner Tomme Beevas likes to say.
The Eat Street restaurant has been an epicenter for Jamaican culture in the Twin Cities for the past three years.
With authentic Jamaican cuisine based on Beevas’ grandmother’s recipes, music and an emphasis on community and family, Pimento aims to keep their Kingston roots prominent in the not-so-tropical Midwest.
“We started with the culture and the vibe and the values, and the rest sort of followed,” Beevas said.
Pimento opened its doors in March of 2016 after Beevas and Yoni Reinharz, also part of the leadership team at Pimento, competed on Food Network’s “Food Court Wars” in 2013. They won a year-long, rent-free location in the Burnsville Center. From there, Beevas and Reinharz moved Pimento to its Eat Street location.
Beevas said he envisioned a place where he could serve his grandmother’s recipes and celebrate his Jamaican roots. Pimento represents this not only with the food, but with events and community outreach.
“We want to make sure that even in this difficult climate, people have a safe space to come,” Beevas said. “We want Pimento to be that safe space.”
Events like the “World Wide Discotheque,” “Azucar Salsa Dance Party” and live music shows every Monday night help cultivate Beevas’ vision of a home away from home.
“We want to make sure we’re championing our community [for] the people that support us and where we come from,” said Pimento’s booking manager Scott McDonald. “We want to be able to provide a platform that some artists may not get at other places.”
On Saturday, Pimento hosted hip-hop/reggae/ska band Dred I Dread, which truly made the restaurant feel like you'd found yourself transported to Kingston.
And the night didn't stop there. Pimento hosted a hip-hop showcase immediately after Dred I Dread’s set. The showcase, featuring performances by Kanser and Mike The Martyr among others, helped raise money for In the Heart of the Beast Theater’s May Day parade.
“It’s just us celebrating and trying to keep something that is a staple and core to the history of Minneapolis,” said McDonald.
The restaurant has raised money for different groups and people in the past; they see it as part of their purpose.
“It’s kind of just our nature,” McDonald said. “Our brothers need help, so we’re going to help. That’s how we operate.”
Pimento's familial atmosphere is apparent in the space, people and food. Regulars are welcomed warmly, with a plate of authentic jerk chicken waiting.
“This is a part of us in terms of the way we were raised and what we’re used to,” said Nick Napo, a co-promoter at Pimento. “Us being in Minnesota lets us bring a piece of the Jamaican element so that everybody else can experience that feel.”
As a family spot both in its mission and founding, Beevas and his team hope to continue his grandmother’s legacy and his heritage.
“Our mantra is ‘Don’t worry, eat happy,’" Beevas said. “People can come here, feel the vibe, smell the food, watch our team members having fun presenting them my grandmother’s food.”