Welcome to Kingston 21
Meet our Founder, Kesian Bennett
(everyone calls me Kes)
It all started with a nugget of hope, an unemployed educator (me) and an obvious necessity. I became just another ex-pat who lost her job (at the start of the pandemic) and was wondering what’s next. I missed home, I missed the food desperately. There was nowhere in Abu Dhabi – at the time, that I could find fall-off-the-bones oxtail and rice and peas, or some well-seasoned jerk chicken. I thought, in a city so gastronomically eclectic why is there no dedicated Jamaican restaurant around? After all, our culture and cuisine are world-renowned. Aren’t we good enough to have our food represented here? Well, YES. Undeniably, the Caribbean people here deserve to have a piece of home, and Abu Dhabi deserves to share in the vibrant uniqueness that is Jamaican cuisine.
So I gathered all my resources by the “hook and crook’ and the K21 dream became a reality. It was no small feat. Like most startups, the challenges were insurmountable; but giving up was never an option. With the help and sacrifice of my amazing partner we opened our doors in April 2021. Kingston 21 became the first female owned and operated Jamaican Restaurant in Abu Dhabi.
What started as a dream, borne out of desperation to live in my purpose but also create a job opportunity for myself when I was hopeless in a new country; blossomed into a team of passionate chefs, who also got the opportunity to learn, grow and provide for themselves and their families.
Our greatest reward each day is making our customers happy through our homestyle cooking, prepared with love.
If you have a dream that’s bigger than you, God will help you.
What’s in a Name?
The name ‘Kingston 21’ was chosen as a symbol of community of- and for Jamaicans in Abu Dhabi, as it is similarly referred to in the Jamaican diaspora. Kingston is the capital of Jamaica; in the capital there are 20 postal codes. In these communities you can find a full range of cultural experiences from dancehall, reggae scenes, Coronation market experience, street food, uptown stylings, and the hustle and bustle of the city. We view Kingston 21 as the hypothetical extension of Jamaica and all things Jamaican across the world.