Home CultureBlack-Owned Griot Cafe: A Look at Jersey City’s Afro-Caribbean Food Gem

Griot Cafe: A Look at Jersey City’s Afro-Caribbean Food Gem

by Danielle Lynch
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Tucked away in the Heights of Jersey City, at 434 Central Avenue, is one of the most quaint little spots in the area. Griot CafE (pronounced “gree-oh”) is a local coffee shop + eatery serving Afro-Caribbean fusion cuisine and ethically sourced coffee. Griot’s story is humble yet proud as five friends, who began as coworkers became a family and built a business filled with laughter, culture, and spice. Read on to learn more about Griot Cafe in Jersey City.

About Griot Café

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 home to their lives here in America. This unearthed the idea for Griot Cafe.

Griot Cafe inside

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Griot in Haiti is a pork dish, while in West Africa it refers to the village storyteller, and that is exactly what the cafe is all about – stories. “We are telling our story through food,” explained KG to The Hoboken Girl in 2019. He also added, “When you come to The Griot, you are experiencing cuisine from all of our different cultures.”

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Griot Cafe inside 2

That vibe certainly resonates, as they give their customers, who have become dear friends, a place to enjoy and feel like they belong.



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Griot Cafe inside 4

“We just want everyone to feel welcome and safe. Come in. Hang out. Sit with us as long as you’d like,” John shared with HG in 2019. The friends are always chatting with their guests, getting to know who they are and their life stories while sharing their own.

The Food 

The menu is a constant work in progress, as different dishes are always added to the mix. Right now, one of the most popular plates is the Griot Sandwich. It is made of shredded seasoned chicken on top of a crisp plantain chip, covered in smashed avocado topped with a spicy — or not — traditional slaw. 

Griot Cafe Sandwich

Another 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, customers can opt for avocado toast with sunny-side-up eggs, a breakfast pie made with egg, Swiss cheese, and veggie toppings, and Creole chicken and waffles.

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In addition to the food menu, the café has tons of drink options like smoothies, juices, teas, and other creations. Some notable selections to choose from are mocha (made with a double shot of espresso, vanilla, dark chocolate, and steamed milk), chai latte, and the Oh Sweet Glory Latte (made with cinnamon, nutmeg, white mocha, vanilla syrup, double shot of espresso, and milk). 

As for smoothies, there are choices from the Rise N’ Shine smoothie made with spinach, mango, banana, and pineapple to the Mango Tango smoothie, made with mango and strawberry. Griot Cafe also makes a smoothie choice for kids called Sophia’s Universe — made with banana, peanut butter, and dark chocolate. 

At Griot Cafe, everyone is welcome to enjoy the meals, drinks, and joy of the atmosphere. The shop is open from 8:00AM to 8:00PM on Monday through Sunday. Follow the shop through its Instagram page here

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