'Good food, good vibes': Stratford eatery shut for 18 months by Covid gets ready to reopen
- Credit: Jon King
A restaurant forced shut by Covid-19 restrictions is getting ready to serve home-cooked Trinidadian fusion food once more.
Island Vibez Kitchen in Gerry Raffles Square had only started welcoming customers from its home at Theatre Royal Stratford East in January 2020.
Less than two months later, the first lockdown struck.
The business was cooked up by manager Pravie Maharaj and Graeme Bright, who is in charge of facilities.
Pravie, who was raised in the Palo Seco region of Trinidad, is also the chef with a line in seasoning and sauces - the ingredients of which are a closely guarded secret.
The 36-year-old learned to cook in kitchens across the Caribbean island before bringing his blend of Trinidadian flavours to Newham.
On what customers can expect from Island Vibez Kitchen's October 10 reopening, Pravie said: "Banging evening. Banging day. Good food. Good vibes.
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"It will be a place for old school people from Newham, new school people from Newham. We'll meet there and have a good time."
Island Vibez Kitchen prides itself on offering an alternative Caribbean restaurant, with Trinidadian flavours over Jamaican dishes.
And its base at a theatre built in 1884 stands in stark contrast to London's West End, according to Pravie.
"How many theatres in London can say they have a Caribbean restaurant? You don't get that in the West End. It's part of what makes us unique," he said.
But due to theatres staying closed longer than restaurants, the eatery was unable to reopen while others around it welcomed back customers.
However, with theatre-goers returning and the play Shining City running from September 17 to October 23, Island Vibez Kitchen is raring to go.
"I'm excited to get the food out there," Pravie said.
Meanwhile anyone who wants to savour a patty, aloo pie or pholourie can head to Island Vibez Kitchen's Roti Shack in Gerry Raffles Square.
Opened in June to offer takeaway during the pandemic, the wooden hut recreates those serving food and drink on the beaches of Trinidad and Tobago.
"The pandemic was trying, but as I say, you can't look at the downside. I had more time to create different meals and work out how to better the restaurant when we reopen again," Pravie said.