Restaurant opens

There’s a new Jamaican joint serving up jerk chicken in Keene.

Yahso Jamaican Grille had its soft opening May 10 inside Walpole Creamery, at 149 Main St., and is in full-swing now, according to co-owner Gail Somers. She said her son, Andre Clayton, is the on-site owner and operator.

“You’ll catch me there on weekends and some evenings — you know, rolling up my sleeves, helping out,” she said.

Together, they had been cooking at small events in recent years and had gotten positive feedback on their island cuisine, Somers said. Clayton was in a transition period and wanted to take a step into entrepreneurship, she said, and the space inside Walpole Creamery seemed perfect.

Both Keene residents, Somers is from Jamaica; she said Clayton was born in the U.S. but has traveled to Jamaica often and has a strong connection to the island.

For their jerk chicken, Somers said they make the marinade from scratch rather than using any store-bought sauces.

“The dream is someday we’ll have that bottled and available to sell, you know,” she said, “maybe first starting in the restaurant and eventually on a shelf in a retail store somewhere.”

Along with classics like jerk chicken, Somers said the menu includes rotating specials, including this weekend’s curry goat. Customers can choose to spice up their dishes, she said, but there are also milder options, such as the beef oxtail, for those unaccustomed to the Jamaican heat. Side items include fried plantains and “mom’s mac ’n’ cheese.”

As for the name, Somers said “yahso” means “right here” in the island’s language, and it’s used to emphasize a particular place.

“So it’s like trying to say, this is the place to be at, this is the place where the fun is happening, like you definitely have to be here,” she said.

For more information about Yahso Jamaican Grille, visit facebook.com/yahsojamaicangrille.

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at shubbard@keenesentinel.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SierraHubbardKS.