From Haiti to U.S., one refugee’s dream of becoming a restaurateur comes true – here’s how

Abu Mubarik June 21, 2021
Entrepreneur Juliano Jean-Jules. Photo credit: Alyssa Keown | The Battle Creek Enquirer

For many in developing countries, migrating to the United States will help improve their economic fortunes. This is because migrants generally view the U.S. as the land where not only dreams come through but opportunities abound.

‘Living the American Dream’ is what influenced Juliano Jean-Jules to migrate from Haiti to settle at Battle Creek, Michigan. He is now the owner of Island Style BBQ, a pop-up restaurant that represents both his dream and the American dream, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer.

His story begins in Haiti, where he wanted to open a restaurant but the idea quickly disappeared just as it came. However, the rising cost of living and political tensions in his country of origin caused him to flee and seek asylum in the U.S. in the early 1990s.

He first arrived in Florida, then migrated to New York City, and finally settled in Battle Creek, Michigan, known as the home of the Kellogg Company. Jean-Jules met his wife, Daleth, an immigrant from Guyana, at a block party in 1994. Together, they have three children and have been married for 26 years.

The couple started a clothing business in New York but it was unsuccessful. They moved to Battle Creek in 2016 when Daleth took a job as the Homeless Program Manager at the Battle Creek VA Medical Center.

It was also within that period that Jean-Jules started his Island Style BBQ business. Starting a restaurant business did not come as a surprise to Daleth because her husband loves to cook. His food is a blend of the Caribbean and American-style food.

She told the Battle Creek Enquirer that, “He is from Haiti, I am from Guyana, we’ve got some adult kids that are American, first-generation. The idea was born out trying to put all three cultures together in this nice collective.”

“You have Haitian, Guyanese, and American culture in the same household. My husband loves cooking food and has always wanted to do that, so here was this unique opportunity to bring this to Battle Creek. This is my husband’s dream and vision.”

Currently, Island Style BBQ operates as a pop-up restaurant and also available for delivery through Eats BC. However, Jean-Jules is targeting to open his first restaurant location in spring.

His delicious Caribbean and American-style food has become the favorite of many in Battle Creek. And Jean-Jules cannot hold back his appreciation.

“I appreciate everything I have because life is tough,” he said. “When I come to America, I thought America wasn’t going to be tough like that. But America is tough. The stuff I make, there’s not too many people who have it here. Some people say they have to go to Ann Arbor or Detroit. I can make the same thing as in Ann Arbor or Detroit, maybe even better.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 21, 2021


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates