Heard on the Street: Exotic food is on the way for the Med City downtown

March 24, 2019 GMT

Some “exotic” flavors are on the way to downtown Rochester as a new Caribbean eatery heats up.

A Jerk King restaurant could start cooking by mid to late April in the former Mac’s Café and Restaurant space at 20 First Ave. SW on the Peace Plaza, said owner Johnson Osei.

He has several Jerk King locations in major Canadian cities, but this will be his first in the United States.

Osei, who is “constantly looking for opportunity,” noticed the high-profile 11,500-square-foot downtown space while visiting the Mayo Clinic.


“You don’t have one (a restaurant like this) and I believe you need one here,” he said.

Darci Fenske, of Rochester’s Paramark Real Estate, represented both Jerk King and the building’s owner in the real estate deal.

Jerk King’s most popular dish is grilled jerk chicken with beans and rice, which Osei describes as “spicy.”

The menu also includes some items not often seen in Rochester restaurants, like goat curry, oxtail and fried plantain for dessert.

“You have all kinds of people coming into the area, but the food served in and around Rochester all seems to be the same,” he said. “We decided having some exotic food in Rochester wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. Osei estimates that it will seat about 30 people.

However, he expects take-out orders for downtown employees and Mayo Clinic visitors to make up the bulk of the business.

Jerk King will open with a team of eight employees. That number could go up if the traffic is high, said Osei.

The exotic eatery will fill a vacancy left behind when owner George Psomas abruptly closed Mac’s in December 2018.

Mac’s was a Rochester landmark that served hearty breakfasts, homemade soups, and Greek specialties including spanakopita and sweet baklava for more than 60 years.

The classic Greek diner, which opened in 1949, was purchased by George’s uncle Stan Kapenis in 1952. In 1969, it opened in the Peace Plaza location. His father, Jimmy Psomas, took over when Kapenis retired. George did the same when his father retired.