Black History Month is a month-long celebration, throughout October, of African and Caribbean culture and heritage in Britain. As part of Black History Month, we wanted to celebrate the recently opened Shakespeare Kitchen – an award-winning Caribbean Restaurant right in the heart of Halifax.
We caught up with Joseph Belibi, the General Manager of the Shakespeare Deluxe Hotel and Caribbean Restaurant, about their journey so far. Joseph is from Cameroon, and the new owner of the hotel, Lynden Paul Davidson, is from Jamaica – together, they have worked to bring the flavours of the Caribbean to Calderdale.
Joseph, when did you become involved with the Shakespeare Deluxe Hotel?
I’d been a night manager at the Radisson hotel in Manchester since 2015 – a big hotel with 263 bedrooms. I met with Lynden at the end of last year, who’d just bought the hotel, and I came over to Halifax and I saw the potential!
I quickly took it from a 2 star to 3 star, just implementing all my years of experience in the hospitality industry. We revamped the place, all the rooms, my wife did the decorations. My daughter did the painting that you see in the restaurant.
Somebody had told me there was no Caribbean restaurant in town. Long story short, I opened the outside courtyard during summer as a ‘jerk yard’ with music playing.
Everybody was coming and really liked it…and they told all their friends and colleagues. Then, about two months ago, this company called Yorkshire Prestige Awards called us and said they want to put us forward for an award. A month later we’d won the 2023/24 Caribbean Restaurant of the Year award!
Wow, amazing! What can people expect when they come to your restaurant?
Well, the principal of Caribbean food is that it is seasoned overnight so that the ingredients go in properly…and then it’s cooked after… the jerking is the shaking of the food so that everything goes in it. We use one of those big drum BBQs, you’ll see it in our restaurant!
We have a live music event every month…soul, jazz – the next one is on the 17th November. We did one last Friday for Black History Month, and this Friday 27th and Saturday 28th October we have a Caribbean cocktail night. It’s all about bringing our culture, the culture of the West Indies and Africa, to Halifax.
So, what’s next?
Right now, it’s really for us to push the restaurant as much as we can, as something different, as the only Caribbean restaurant around here. Halifax is a great city…. I have fallen in love with the place. And the Piece Hall is amazing…our ambition is to be present at the Piece Hall events next year. We are ready – we just need the support from as many locals as possible!