Business of the Month – Mamee’s Kitchen Authentic Jamaican Cuisine and Catering and Jay B’s To-Go by Platinum Cutsowned and operated by the husband-and-wife duo of Michael and Lasharn Anderson and barbershop by experienced barber Johnny Matthews

Flavorful Jamaican cuisine and quality barber services can be found at Mamee’s Kitchen and Jay B’s To-Go by Platinum Cuts, the City of Smiths Station’s Co-Businesses of the Month.

Opened last February, the restaurant is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife duo of Michael and Lasharn Anderson and barbershop by experienced barber Johnny Matthews.

Born and raised in an impoverished region of Jamaica, Michael said he learned from his older sister and mother “Mamee” who serves as the restaurant’s namesake.

“I love cooking and it’s really what I enjoy to do. My mother and my sister were my big inspirations and who I learned to love it from,” Michael said. “When I was 10-12 years old, I had to start cooking for myself in the mornings because my parents were busy or at work.”

During his formative years, Michael said he desired to take a path that would lead him out of Jamaica, with his primary options being track and field or music. He chose what came most naturally.

“Track and field was my getaway. In Jamaica, you learn to run at a really young age,” Michael said. “I applied myself in school and got grades so that I could receive a scholarship and attend college somewhere.”

Michael’s hard work paid off, becoming one of the country’s most coveted high school runners and prospects by scouts from American schools and universities. It was during his recruitment that he said he toured Auburn University’s campus and fell in love with the East Alabama area.

“It was lowkey and not too much excitement going on. So, in 1991, I decided that I wanted to go to Auburn,” Michael said.

At Auburn, Michael made a name for himself as an elite sprinter, at one point becoming the SEC champion in the 400-meter dash.

After finishing his degree in sport recreation and management, Michael furthered his track career, competing internationally and signing a short deal to run for Nike. Following his retirement from the sport, he got into coaching, working stints at North Carolina A&T and athletes from Jamaica’s national team.

Returning to the area in the late 2000s, Michael switched paths and joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office in 2011. At Lasharn’s prompting, he retired from law enforcement early last year to focus on his new business concept.

Exotic items like oxtail and goat are prepared at the restaurant, but dishes like curry shrimp or jerk chicken will be familiar to Americans who are new to Jamaican cuisine. Michael explained that they place an emphasis on strong seasoning, which has drawn rave reviews from his patrons.

“Anybody can cook chicken, but it’s all about the seasoning. A lot of folks think that Jamaican food is all spicy, but it’s not,” Michael said.

The majority of the food Michael prepares is made from Jamaican-imported items, as well as some of the beverages he serves.

Next door at Jay B’s, Michael explained that Matthews has built a loyal following through providing customers with traditional, quality barber services in a laid-back atmosphere.

“At Jay B’s, he can give you a great haircut, shave and all the basic things you’d expect to find at a barbershop.”

According to Lasharn, reception and support for the two businesses has been solid during the last 11 months.

“People have been really good to us since we opened … and we have a lot of loyal customers (for both businesses) that keep coming back,” Lasharn said.

Following are hours of operation for the two businesses, both on Eastern Standard Time:

Jay B’s: Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Thursdays 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Fridays and 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Mamee’s: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, call 334-480-8805. The businesses are located at 16583 U.S. Highway 280.