Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kool Runnings......they're back.

Institution - 

 "a custom, practice, relationship, behavioral pattern or organization of importance in the life of a community or society."

By this definition alone I think I could safely declare Kool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant an Atlanta institution. Hated by some, beloved by most, their ubiquitous Stone Mountain location has been a fixture on Memorial Drive for 19 years. With 24 hour service on weekends, Kool Runnings was effectively the Waffle House of Caribbean establishments serving ox tail, jerk chicken, curry goat, escovitch fish and more to weary party goers in the wee hours.  

It was my custom after a long night at 426, Atrium, Party Room or Pisces to stop in for a large ox tail, rice an peas, fry dumplin with extra gravy (my rice should be swimming). Food that heavy would deliver a quick and decisive dose of sober for the inevitable dash down po po alley (Memorial Drive). 

But 19 years of serving the Stone Mountain community came to an end with little warning this past May when hungry party goers pulled into the gravely parking lot to find the brightly coloured building boarded up with only a vague and oddly chilling sign alluding to its fate. 

Where in the world was I going to get good stew oxtail now? My mother's is arguably the best but flying home each time isn't practical. Some would say Island Cafe just down the street but I hadn't ever been a fan of their food to begin with, I wasn't about to start eating there just because my favourite spot was gone.  

I went without brown stew kingfish or my beloved stew oxtail for several months till one day in September, I happened to be driving through Norcross on my way home. While cutting through a strip mall parking lot to circumvent a particularly pesky traffic light, I happened to randomly run in to.........

Oxtail Nirvana
 Holy shit.......

I walked in the door, bent down on my knees and kissed the floor. The owners later told me people had been doing the same thing all week, they'd had no idea how much the brand had meant to Atlantan islanders.

In this notoriously fickle city, the establishment represented belonging, it demonstrated that we islanders had established ourselves as permanent fixtures in this southern community and that when all else failed, we could always return here for a little taste of home.

But why Norcross? Why so far from Caribbean ground zero? I never quite got a straight answer but it didn't matter. In the week since they'd re-opened their doors, practically all their fans had found them and business was booming. Let's hope we'll see the brand around for another 19 years because seriously, my blood pressure won't allow for another closing.


Kool Runnings Jamaican Restaurant

5450 Peachtree Parkway

Norcross, GA 30092


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