With her restaurant Kokomo she brought Caribbean design to Brooklyn

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention. Jeryl Brunner (Forbes) explores Caribbean cuisine through Brooklyn’s diasporic business and restaurant design.

When Ria Graham set out to create Kokomo with her husband Kevol their mission was to transport guests to the Caribbean without leaving Brooklyn. “The Caribbean is so versatile, and over hundreds of years has formed its own beautiful melting pot of cultures from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas,” says Ria who, along with Kevol was raised in New York City and has deep Caribbean roots. (Her mother is from Trinidad. Her father hails from Grenada.) “The stories that we tell culturally and through our food are unique.”

Just across from the waterfront in Williamsburg, the decor and cuisine is thoughtfully curated. “Few people know the level of detail that went into designing and creating Kokomo,” says Graham who shares that designer, Dara Young from The Aviva Collective, created Caribbean-inspired intimate dining spaces throughout.

“The focal point of our main room is a communal table to welcome families, friends, and strangers to enjoy a Caribbean feast while overlooking our beautifully lit bamboo bar symbolizing positive energy and strength,” says Ria. The main room also contains an intricate art installation, also designed by Young, that recreates a Caribbean village outfitted with miniature stores and people.

Then there’s a section called “Lovers Rock” containing two person swings hanging from the ceiling. “It ignites the feeling of an intimate Caribbean romance,” says Ria. The back room was designed to embody the beauty and lushness of a Caribbean rainforest. “And our downstairs champagne room designed with colors of the Caribbean sea evokes an underwater glamorous cave experience,” she adds. “We strived to hit all the marks of what makes the Caribbean so special.”

In addition to its design and dramatic waterfront views, the cuisine, which celebrates their Caribbean heritage, also makes Kokomo a standout. “We knew we wanted to design the menu to reflect our background and the many countries that influenced Caribbean culture as the legacy of colonization,” says Ria.

To that end, Ria points to the Wah Gwaan flatbread. “The crust is a traditional New York City brick oven crust, a nod to the community we grew up in,” she says. “The base is a tomato confit which reflects the French influence in the Caribbean. The stars of the dish are sautéed jerk shrimp and ackee, a national fruit in Jamaica.” That is topped off with a drizzle of cilantro sauce “It’s our final nod to the Latin influence,” she adds. [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerylbrunner/2023/01/27/with-her-restaurant-kokomo-she-brought-caribbean-design-to-brooklyn/?sh=1c67b4193a9f

Kokomo Restaurant
65 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11249

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