For 15 years, Miss Marva has been serving up delicious food reminiscent of her native Guyana at Caribbean Stone Restaurant, 217 W. 8th Street. In 1996, Miss Marva took over the restaurant from her brother who, at the time, was only serving vegetarian dishes. Revamping the menu was the first order of business and we, the customers, are the beneficiaries of that change! As Miss Marva said, people want to eat meat, too.
While the chicken curry is a customer favorite, on a recent visit, Miss Marva served pepper steak with pigeon peas and rice. The meat was fork tender and the sauce flavorful. Thank goodness for the rice which helped to soak up every last drop of the delicious sauce. Other customer favorites include the shrimp curry with cabbage and the stewed beef. She also makes goat curry, salt fish with spinach and other delicious entrees. There are also vegetarian dishes available upon request.
Just as if she were cooking for her family, the menu changes based on the ingredients available and the inspiration of Miss Marva. However, she has been known to make any dish on the menu if requested. So, it is a good idea to call ahead (554-9033) to see what’s cooking or to request a favorite!
While Miss Marva has been making it happen in the kitchen, she has not been able to devote much time to renovating the restaurant itself. So, SAMBA (Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association) and Preservation SOS have gotten together to “Make It Happen” for the restaurant and Miss Marva. Preservation SOS is an organization dedicated to preserve and restoring the structures and fabric that make up the Historic District of Springfield, Jacksonville, Florida.
In a 3 phase project, SAMBA and Preservation SOS will beautify the restaurant’s exterior and interior, utilizing materials and labor largely donated or steeply discounted by area merchants and suppliers. The exterior design was created by Jason Fisher of Content Design Group*. Mr. Fisher, who is also First Vice President of SAMBA, wanted to use a color scheme to highlight Miss Marva’s Caribbean roots. The crimped metal awnings add to the Caribbean themed design. Mr. Fisher’s
design adds interest and dimension to an otherwise flat exterior through the use of color and the awnings. The exterior painting will be tackled by volunteers from Preservation SOS and SAMBA (and whomever else wants to lead a hand, hint, hint) in the second phase of the project.
The first phase, the landscaping will be tackled this weekend beginning at 8 a.m. Created by Laura Byres of Yard Chicks, Inc.*, the landscape design focused on xeriscaping or using plants which are low maintenance and reduce the need for irrigation. Ms. Byres also included a beautiful stone path feature to set Caribbean Stone apart from its neighbors. The plants have largely been donated by Williams Plant Nursery and Breaking Ground Contracting, Inc.* The stones have been supplied by Stone Plus, Inc. at an extremely reasonable cost. Florida Transom has donated new wheel stops for the parking lot as part of the exterior renovation. While the labor is mostly a volunteer force, Steve Johnson Home Repairs will be leading their skills to the project.
The interior renovation is being lead by Allison Behringer of Sweet Pete’s All Natural Sweets*and SAMBA board member.
This portion of the project will be tackled at a later date. But Sargent Upholstery* has already committed to re-cover Miss Marva’s chairs to get the interior renovation started.
Come and partake of Caribbean Stone Restaurant’s delicious food and watch the changes happen! You could even lend a hand for this extreme makeover-small business style. Rumor has it that Miss Marva will be serving up chicken and rice this weekend.
* denotes a SAMBA member