Business brings Island Vybz to the North Country

Island Vybz owner Showayne Telfer cooks on the grill outside of the store on Clinton Street in Plattsburgh. (Provided photo — Fernando Alba, Press-Republican)

PLATTSBURGH — In a time when many businesses were being shuttered, Showayne Telfer decided to bring a taste of the Caribbean to Plattsburgh last year.

Island Vybz opened on Clinton Street in downtown Plattsburgh on Sept. 5, 2020, with the one-year anniversary of the day quickly approaching.

“Started in the pandemic, a lot of people would say it’s not a good time to start, but when you have a vision you can’t let anything stop it,” Telfer said.

Community need

Island Vybz owner Showayne Telfer poses in front of the business with his daughter Divii. The business will celebrate its one-year anniversary since opening on Sept. 5. (Provided photo — Ben Watson — Press-Republican)

Telfer, originally from St. Thomas, Jamaica, moved to the Plattsburgh area about five years ago, he said.

Since then, he’s gotten to know the existing community of Jamaicans in the North Country, and realized that he wanted to help provide a taste of home to the people in the area.

“Coming directly from Jamaica, I enjoy eating the stuff that I’m used to, and I would find people in the same situation,” Telfer said. “Jamaicans have been in Plattsburgh for years, I know people who have been here 20 years, 10 years; It was a huge community need here.”

So Island Vybz opened its storefront last fall, starting by providing a wide range of Caribbean grocery items, sourced from downstate from places in Albany and New York City.

Then, this past March, the business started selling a hot food menu to-go.


Telfer created a rotating menu of Jamaican staples, including jerk chicken, oxtail and curry chicken and goat, and began serving one-day-a-week at first, eventually growing to currently serving Wednesday through Saturday.

A detailed daily menu can be found at the business’ Facebook page,

@Island Vybz.

And, along with satisfying the Jamaican community in the area, Telfer said that the food has become popular with people less familiar with the island nation’s culinary fare.

“That response has been tremendous,” Telfer said. “Every day people will come in and say, ‘Oh that’s new, let me try this,’ or, ‘Oh I went to Jamaica five years ago and they had this soda, do you have it’ and then when they see it it’s such a joy on their face.”

And many SUNY Plattsburgh students from the New York City area have also become regular patrons, he added.

“The Jamaican community there is huge, so no matter which ethnicity they are, they know this kind of food.”

Telfer has enjoyed having the chance to bring a little piece of his home country to Plattsburgh, and he hopes he can continue to be among many businesses in town to bring a variety of food options to the people.

“You’re doing business to make money, but sometimes the element of people being happy is worth more than the dollar; bringing more diversity to the community is worth more than the dollar,” Telfer said.


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