After moving to California and seeing the lack of Caribbean representation, Nigel Jones, owner of Kingston 11, decided to pursue an idea that had been in the back of his mind for 15 years. He wants to expose people to Jamaican culture through excellent tasting, locally sourced food that is good for you.
Kingston 11 started as a pop-up restaurant in 2011, cooking in a commercial kitchen in Emeryville and serving at the Guerrilla Cafe in Berkeley. When they decided to open their brick and mortar at 2270 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Nigel, his business partner Adrian, and their families and friends contributed a lot of capital. With Main Street Launch’s help (then OBDC), they were able to secure a $120,000 HUD loan in partnership with the City of Oakland that allowed them to finish construction.
Nigel worked closely with Scott Lewis, now Main Street Launch’s CFO. “Main Street Launch is so thorough and conscious of trying to help moderate income people to contribute to the success of Oakland. You don’t have to be wealthy to start a restaurant, and Main Street Launch helped us bridge the gap financially. Main Street Launch does their due diligence, which made me feel more confident that our business plan, our product, and our following could make our restaurant successful.” Now, Nigel sees Main Street Launch as a trusted partner: “If we have questions or need advice, I feel 100 percent confident that I can reach out to Scott and to Main Street Launch. I know the advise I get will be sound and helpful for my business.”
“We opened our restaurant in November 2013, and we achieved a lot of milestones in the first year, including breaking even. Now, our goal is profitability as we try to be the best restaurant in Oakland,” says Nigel. Kingston 11 is truly a part of Oakland, and their business employs 30 people from the community. Nigel notes, “Oakland is a diverse city, and we want our restaurant to reflect the community. From our management team to our customer service approach, we reflect Oakland.”
Read some of Kingston 11’s great reviews from Zagat, as well as from a variety of Bay Area news outlets. Visit them for lunch, dinner, and brunch!