The season of giving has begun, and in Hudson County, there is no shortage of helping hands and kind gestures. One such gesture that came across social media on Thanksgiving Eve was from Jersey City Heights cafe Cafe Griot. This business, which recently moved locations to 398 Central Avenue in Jersey City, posted on its Instagram today that it’d be giving out free turkeys to anyone in need this Thanksgiving.
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“It’s the season of giving! Come get your free turkey now! #happythanksgiving #familytime #community,” the cafe posted on its Instagram.
Griot’s story is humble-yet-proud, as five friends who began as coworkers became a family, and built a business filled with laughter and giving. This Afro-Caribbean gem opened in late 2018/early 2019, received with open arms by the local community.
When John, Victor, KG (Kagiso), and Malick met at Burgiss, a private capital investment research firm in 2011, they all became good friends, sharing a bond through mutual emigration from their respective home countries of Haiti, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. Soon after, Victor introduced his brother, Edouard, to the group and added another friend to the mix. Their friendship grew and grew as they shared stories, recipes, and memories from their past, always wondering how they could bring a piece of their homes to their lives here in America. This unearthed the idea for Griot Café.
Griot in Haiti is a pork dish, while in West Africa it refers to the village storyteller, and that is exactly what the café is all about – stories. “We are telling our story through food,” explains KG. “When you come to The Griot, you are experiencing cuisine from all of our different cultures.”
That vibe certainly resonates, as they give their customers, who have become dear friends, a place to enjoy and feel like they belong.
“We just want everyone to feel welcome and safe. Come in. Hang out. Sit with us as long as you’d like,” John says. The friends are always chatting with their guests, getting to know who they are and their life stories while sharing their own.
The menu is a constant work in progress, as different dishes are always added to the mix. A favorite dish is the Turno, a Haitian pastry similar to a classic turnover but made with beef, chicken, fish, spinach, or vegan. For breakfast options, expect classics with a twist – think avocado toast, breakfast pies, + Creole chicken, and waffles.
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