Juicy’s Shanty serves Jamaican food, reggae by the river – The Durango Herald


Alexa Alfonsi and Chris Turner stand next to Juicy’s Shanty, their Jamaican food ruck, next to the Powerhouse Science Center on July 14. The food truck opened on July 1st. (Nick Gonzales / Durango Herald)

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Food truck owners hope to turn Powerhouse into a go-to place for diverse cuisine

“Durango needs another burger or tacos like a hole in his head,” said Chris Turner.

To some, these might be fighting words, but they’re one of the main reasons Turner and her partner, Alexa Alfonsi, opened their Jamaican food truck, Juicy’s Shanty, on July 1 outside of the Powerhouse Science Center on the Animas River Trail.

“We thought the food in this town was… mediocre is nice,” Turner said. “And we wanted to solve that problem – give Durango a different kind of flavor.”

For those who don’t know, Jamaican food tends to have a mild heat, Alfonsi said.

“It’s a very rounded type of heat,” she said. “It’s not going to burn your face.”

“It’s enough to make your forehead sweat and your mouth warm, but you can’t stop,” Turner said. “It’s also salty. Our cooked oxtail is like a pot roast, but it has those Jamaican notes – allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon.

He said he was exposed to Jamaican cuisine from an early age, visiting the island frequently.

The name “Juicy’s Shanty” comes from a member of the Negril family, who had the nickname “Juicy”. It served juices, beer, snacks, and Italian (vegan food celebrated by the Rastafarian movement).

“We wanted to honor him and kind of carry the torch, so we started this little island hut,” Turner said.

Everything on the menu is made from scratch in the truck, he said.

“We’re either extreme meat or extreme vegans,” he said.

Ninety percent of the food is vegan, including all sides (except Mac-n-Cheese) and all sauces, he said.

But Turner said he has also smoked meat since he was 16, and was a pit chef and chef with classical training in French, German, Italian, Thai and Mexican cuisine.

Chris Turner is cooking a grill inside Juicy’s Shanty. Before pursuing a career in the film industry, he spent time in Jamaica and trained as a pit boss and chef. (Nick Gonzales / Durango Herald)

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Turner plans to make Texas-smoked beef breasts, jerk-smoked beef breasts, and applewood-smoked Caroline-style breasts in the food truck, which, at least initially, will serve as both food. Jamaican and barbecue.

“The idea is to make the Jamaican and the barbecue truck the same and then separate them eventually,” he said. “And then build other trucks down the line. We want to make a Mediterranean truck – do like Lebanese spit and things marinated in Greek yogurt with rice and skewers and all that. And we also want to do something Thai later. “

Turner and Alfonsi plan to transform the space outside the Power Plant, which also houses The Soup Palette and Thimbleberry Smoothie Co., into a space with live music and the like.

“We’re trying to create a space where someone who lives here can come down and hang out,” Alfonsi said. “I want you to be able to come here, eat a plate of food – that you have leftovers with – and not break the bank.”

Turner, an assistant director with the Directors Guild of America, said he and Alfonsi had worked in the television and film industry in Brooklyn, New York, for 10 years – until their layoff in March 2020.

“We used it as a starting point, really,” Alfonsi said. “Here’s a sign from the universe to get out there.”

The couple had traveled to Durango and Pagosa Springs frequently over the previous decade, and Turner worked on a pilot in Mancos. But they were both tired of the industry, he said.

The work behind the camera paid off, at least in part, in the dichotomy that developed between Turner and Alfonsi, who was a production assistant. While he takes care of the flavors, she takes care of the customers.

“We’ve both worked with top actors for a long time,” he said. (“Profile of pain in butt,” she interjected.) “And I was fed up, honestly – I don’t want to talk to people like that. She’s dealt with Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg on ‘Blue Bloods’ for the past three seasons, so it felt like second nature.

“It’s easy to be a happy camper,” Alfonsi said. “It’s even easier to know this is our world.

Turner said he liked being part of a children’s science center, but he also wanted to reach out to adults. He eventually hopes to get a liquor license and have a BYOB-type situation with a corkage fee.

“Who eats jerk chicken without drinking a Guinness Extra Stout or a Red Stripe or a rum drink? ” he said.

He would also like to give cooking lessons at some point, he said.

The exterior of Juicy’s slum, which is painted by local artist Parker Ledford, will represent the slum as if it were parked in the middle of Ice Lake. (Nick Gonzales / Durango Herald)

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If the art on the truck sounds familiar to you, it might be because it’s painted by local artist Parker Ledford, who also painted the Wolf Mural on North Main Laundry. The exterior of the truck will represent Ice Lake at the back with a small island in the middle with the hut on top and the Milky Way above. In front, the truck looks like the front of the slum with the reflection of the mountains around the ice lake in the water behind it.

“We’re wandering around in art now,” Alfonsi said.

Juicy’s Shanty is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 1333 Camino del RIo.

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