Back A Yard Caribbean Grill brings Jamaican family flavor to South Bay

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- Robert Simpson was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the Bay Area. He wanted to take his love for family and food and bring it to the foodies of the area.

He did this with Back A Yard Caribbean Grill.

"Some of my happiest moments as a child was around the table," Back A Yard Caribbean Grill Chef Proprietor Robert Simpson said. "There's lots of food, lots of family and lots of laughs. When I walk into any one of our restaurants and see a table of two or ten enjoying the same thing, I feel like I have accomplished my idea."

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Simpson opened his first location in Menlo Park, Calif more than a decade ago.

It's a small location with no parking and few tables.

But, it's consistently busy.

In fact, his two locations in San Jose are also usually crowded with people looking for that sense of Jamaican hospitality.

"The name 'Back A Yard' is synonymous with how things are done back home," Simpson said. "My whole idea is to keep it as close as possible to the way we do it back home."

One way Simpson makes it close to home is by the choices of foods he has on the menu.

He has taken childhood favorites from his grandmother and perfected their recipes so it's always the same great flavor.

His passion is shown through his cooking and the customers are who benefit.

"I'm a chef. I like to cook and I like to cook Jamaican food," Simpson said. "We're in the Bay right? We have the best palate in the state and people are willing to try everything. It's a chef's dream!"

Everything at Back A Yard is a Jamaican staple.

From the jerk chicken, to the curry goat and, of course, their oxtail.

"The reason I come here is for the oxtail," Jonathan Herrera said. "It's tender and delicious."

Herrera brought his daughter to Back A Yard for the first time to try the oxtail.

She said she wasn't scared to try it and it showed by her cleaned plate.

ABC7 Community Journalist Dustin Dorsey gathered up some courage to do the same.

Like Lauryn and many others, he was a fan.

"We're well accepted by the Bay Area fans and we continue to say thank you and give value," Simpson said. "Customers come out and look for sincerity. Sincerity in service, food and environment. I think when people walk in, they don't see the pretentious part of us and they feel at home."

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Simpson says Back A Yard is a family business.

From his cooks, dish cleaners, and servers, they all get the family treatment.

This sentiment is extended and felt by visiting customers and it's the reason they keep coming back.

"Hospitality is hosting people you don't know," Simpson said. "You have a short time to make that impression. It's not easy, but the truth is when you walk out and see a table of 10 or 15 just going at it because they're having a good time, that's mission fulfilled."

Back A Yard opened up a brand new take-out and catering location in Downtown San Jose.

For more information on locations and menu, visit the Back A Yard website here.
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