to you . . . on a plate!
Fathered in Jamaica, Born in Gainesville
The Reggae Shack Café is the concept and brainchild of veteran restaurateur Omar Oselimo. Growing up in Jamaica, Omar started his first business when he was ten years old from selling livestock to being a street vendor to selling firewood to meat vendors. He always had a passion for entrepreneurship. But one thing kept on pulling him, and that was cooking. Even as a young man, his preserves and his baked goods would wow relatives, families, and friends, but he struggled with the idea of becoming a chef. After some soul-searching, he realized it is not what you choose in life, but what chooses you. While studying at the prestigious Johnson & Wales University, he was one of the founding members of Radication Sound System with DJ Klarc Shepard. The two would handle most of the campus parties and a string of radio shows on underground stations in Miami. Omar worked at various restaurant jobs in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, and had the dream to someday own his own Jamaican restaurant. With his technical training and his rich Jamaican heritage, it was while working at the Hard Rock Café that it all came together – that it would be cool to have a reggae-themed Jamaican restaurant that would bring his passion for food, music, and culture together under one roof. Reggae Shack Café was born.
Using cooking techniques, ingredients, and spices firmly based in Jamaican tradition, Reggae Shack’s authentic, delicious meals soon ranked it as one of the best places to eat in Gainesville by The Gainesville Sun. During this time, Omar met his future wife, Arpita, whose background was in art and education. Arpita proved to be an invaluable partner for Omar – both in and out of the restaurant.
Today, the Reggae Shack Café owners pride themselves on promoting the positive aspects of Jamaican culture. Reggae Shack Café leads the evolution of Jamaican cuisine and embodies the motto, “Serving Jamaican to you . . . on a plate!” by bringing a full Jamaican experience, from food, music, culture, and ambience, to guests from all over the world.
A Growing Family and Business
As Omar and Arpita’s family grew to include four children, their legion of dedicated customers also grew. Twice, they had to knock down walls within the existing restaurant to add more room and hire more employees to meet the growing demand for Jamaican and vegetarian cuisine in the area. Omar and Arpita’s success with Reggae Shack led them to open other successful restaurant concepts in the area, including Indian and Southern food restaurants. Reggae Shack has become so ingrained in the local arts community that several local musicians, who had quickly become part of the restaurant’s almost cult-like following, wrote songs about Reggae Shack – leading Omar to become involved in music in a way he never imagined.