Miss Edna’s whole smoked jerk chicken, a recipe Lonie Murdock said her grandmother had made for years.

While Miss Likklemore’s initially hit the food scene as a pop-up, the mark it left on Torontonians was anything but temporary.

Partners Lonie Murdock and Darren Hinds have always valued their families’ passion for food and community — key ingredients in the creation of their new restaurant, Miss Likklemore’s.

The Caribbean-inspired eatery started as a pop-up along Queen Street West two years ago. But while Murdock and Hinds had only envisioned it as a temporary project, the positive feedback they received from customers motivated the duo to start looking for a permanent space.

In August, they opened their new location on King Street West at Spadina Avenue.

Inside the doors, customers are greeted by a mesmerizing portrait of Miss Edna (Murdock’s grandmother). The interior decor features pops of vibrant colour, from green and mustard yellow dining booths to a brightly lit bar stocked with multiple types of rum and liqueurs.

A portrait of head chef Lonie Murdock's grandmother, Miss Edna, whose jerk chicken recipe is featured on the menu, hangs at the entrance of the restaurant.

“We pay homage to all of our roots … the collective Caribbean community in Toronto. We have something from almost every island whether it be a rum or a dish,” said Murdock, who is also head chef.

Murdock emphasizes that they would not be here without the people and businesses in Little Jamaica and Eglinton Avenue West that laid the groundwork for representing and amplifying Caribbean communities in the city.

“It’s a constant evolution, but the roots remain the same,” said Hinds.

Some of the recipes featured on the restaurant’s menu come from Murdock’s and Hinds’s families. Murdock’s love and passion for cooking in particular can be traced back to growing up watching and learning from Miss Edna.

“I remember one time (my grandmother) came home from Kensington Market and they had given her the wrong package and it was just all these scraps of fish tails and fish heads and we were all mortified,” Murdock recalled.

“But she was like, ‘this is amazing,’ and an hour later, we had fish stew and all of these dishes.”

In fact, Miss Edna’s jerk chicken recipe is featured on the menu along with Hinds’s mother’s (Miss Paula’s) carrot cake and his sister-in-law’s pepper sauce, which they like to refer to as “liquid gold.”

“The funny thing is we never knew (the carrot cake) was a big deal because we ate it all the time — until we put it on the menu at the pop-up and people went crazy for it,” said Hinds.

Murdock adds that during the time they owned the pop-up, the carrot cake was offered in a cupcake size, but soon they were flooded with requests for full-sized cakes, which they now offer on their menu.

“(Miss Paula) actually came to work with our pastry chef and I said, ‘Miss Paula’s carrot cake is famous now,’ like it’s almost as famous as the restaurant itself,” said Murdock.

Other popular dishes at Miss Likklemore’s include the slow-braised oxtail, grilled fish and doubles. There is also an impressive list of 100 types of rum from all over the Caribbean and the world, as well as wine pairings to fit your meal.

A sampling of the menu at Miss Likklemore's, featuring Miss Edna's jerk chicken and Miss Paula's carrot cake.

As partners, Murdock and Hinds emphasize the importance to them of providing a comfortable, warm and friendly atmosphere.

“If anybody’s ever been to the Caribbean, they’re so hospitable. They’re so warm, they’re so welcoming … so our (restaurant) and staff exudes (those traits),” said Murdock.

Sean Bailey, regional director of operations at Scale Hospitality — an organization that aids restaurants in food service, design and hospitality — recalls a recent night where he watched a couple who had been regular diners rush to greet and high-five several of their servers.

It was at that moment that he thought back to the warmth of the environment and acknowledged with pride, “We did our jobs.”

Other heartwarming moments Bailey and the team have witnessed include line cooks dancing to the tracks the restaurant’s weekend DJ plays or servers having friendly banter with guests as if they are joking with old friends.

“One thing I find is that with our staff, they’re excited about the place too. It isn’t just a job … Everyone wanted it to be a success, some of them are Caribbean. They’re happy that this is here and they’re proud to work here,” said Hinds.

Miss Likklemore's initially hit the Toronto food scene as a pop-up.

Despite only opening their new location in August, Bailey adds that they already have regulars coming by, pointing to an example of one customer who has made it a personal goal to try each of Miss Likklemore’s 100 types of rum.

“Customers are so thankful to see themselves represented in the food and the music, and the artwork,” said Murdock.

She adds non-Caribbean diners who have visited have also expressed excitement about trying new dishes and learning more about Caribbean culture.

“For people to come in and not know what to expect and leave with not only a good meal but a great experience combined … for me that’s important, seeing all of these things come together and bring others together,” said Murdock.

#StarEats is a regular series where the Star helps readers get to know the people and stories behind some of the city’s most popular eateries and those who are breaking into the food spotlight.


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