Chicken back saves struggling business at posh Devon House

A staff member at Damascus Gate poses beside the ‘chicken back’ sign. (Photos: Don Waysome)

Frowned upon in some households, being designated only to make chicken stock or soup, chicken back has long been a survival food for the island’s poor.

However, there was no shame in the ‘garrison’ delicacy when it was proudly displayed on the blackboard menu outside Mediterranean restaurant Damascus Gate that is located inside the Devon House complex.

As the sign says, chicken back is prepared in various ways.

It is a major head turner for some Jamaicans who walk by and a source of fascination for many of the tourists who visit the popular landmark with hopes of buying trinkets and eating the world-famous ice-cream.

“I’ve never heard of chicken back,” remarked one US visitor, who was seen enjoying the boney delight at a bench in the courtyard, noting that it was tasty but only provided a slither of meat.

A worker from a nearby store remarked that she had been having it for lunch each day, despite her place of employment providing lunch.

Inside Damascus Gate is simply a work of art.

The rave reviews, following the addition of the non-traditional menu item, is a welcomed relief for restaurant co-owner Angella, who shared candidly that the business was on the verge of closing its doors.

“We had to do something,” said Angella, who noted that her workers had long encouraged her to sell chicken as a way of ramping up sales.

The staff members at Damascus Gate are welcoming.

Angella explained that it was no easy endeavour to persuade the complex’s management to allow her to sell chicken – let alone chicken back – as she is exclusively licensed to sell Mediterranean food.

However, beginning in August, she got the approval of Devon House’s management to include the item on her menu. This small change, she said, is helping her to turnaround her business.