“It’s not about the money,” Yvonne said. “We have to live, too, but my joy is when somebody comes in to enjoy a meal and says, ‘I love this food.’ It makes my day. The same meal we would put on the table for our family is what we present to our customers.”
Yvonne moved to Canada in her teenage years while her parents remained in the central part of Jamaica, but she carried her culture across borders.
In 2011, the Clarkes moved to Houston, and almost immediately opened their first eatery on South Gessner Drive and Bissonnet Street—an area where Jamaican food is prominent, she said.
When the couple discovered there was a market for a Jamaican eatery in Katy, they considered expanding their Houston location. Due to time constraints, they ultimately settled in Katy only.
There are few occasions when Yvonne is not cooking in her kitchen. The only time she eats out is while in her country island once or twice per year.
“I go to different restaurants to compare their food with mine,” Yvonne said. “I go to see if I am up to par with what I am tasting in Jamaica and what I am providing for the people in the Katy area.”
She said Jamaicans prefer takeout a lot more than Americans because their food has a lot of bones and people enjoy the flavor.
“[At home], Jamaicans enjoy sucking on their bones,” she said. “They can’t do this dining out.”
Alroy and Yvonne take care of almost everything in their business, including the cooking.
“I look forward to getting up and coming here,” Yvonne said. “I hope I can keep this restaurant going for years—that people will take over and continue this because I feel it is a part of my legacy.”
Tropical Diner West
3111 N. Fry Road, Katy
Hours: Mon. 12-8 p.m., Tue.-Thu. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 12-6 p.m. •