Just by speaking to Chef/Owner Carlton Thomas, you get that “homey welcome” that matches his business' name in every way.
Thomas lived abroad for a number of years, and worked in the culinary field for about five of them. He spent some time in the gemstone business with some of the top jewellery companies in New York, but yearned to get back into the food service industry.
According to Thomas, “I thought about how I could fulfill my dream of living in Antigua again, and getting into the restaurant business appealed to me. In 1992 I came and opened The Home Restaurant.
Asked why the name, he said there were two reasons. "This was my boyhood home, I grew up right here in this house," he said. "My father built this the same time PM school was built in 1955, so this restaurant has sentimental value to me. Secondly, the objective in styling my food is to give the diner a home-like atmosphere with the charm and welcoming features that they would normally get when they visit someone’s home for dining etc.”
He said the seafood is a standout. "I am very pleased to present all the different items we have on the menu, but with a restaurant in the Caribbean surrounded by the sea, I believe the sea must play a big part in the menu," he said. "I don’t deal with imported fish, all local; I have at least five different types of seafood on the menu. I go to the market every day, except on Sundays. I’m all about using local produce and food items, making them into lovely, tasty dishes."
The restaurant lets both tourists and locals experience what can be done with local produce in an innovative manner.
“I do what I do out of a love for it," Thomas explained, noting that customers from all over the world have sat at his tables. "In this business, it’s very gratifying to hear at the end of a meal, customers would say wow, that was really good, or, you put the icing on the cake during my vacation here.”
Thomas also loves the idea of being his own boss, as it gives him the opportunity to do what he wants, how he wants. "Most chefs sometimes are constrained by food costs and are limited as to what they would like to do, but with me, I have the creativity and freedom to do what I want, so if I feel I want to be overly interesting today on the dining table, I’ll do just that.”
The economic situation has affected businesses around the world, and Home has felt it to some extent.
“During the time when airlines like Lufthansa and Air France were on regular schedules to Antigua, we had a bumper crowd, but things have changed and this has affected business somewhat," Thomas said.
He sees some refreshing energy on the horizon with some of the young talent at work in the culinary field. “I was asked to be a judge at the Mango Festival at one time, and I was very impressed with the tremendous number of young people who took part," he said.
"I think there are a lot of young people in this field and doing well. It’s just that you don’t hear much about them. Sir Clare Roberts' son, a young lad, he has climbed to the highest rung of the ladder in this business both here and abroad. I am very proud of him.”
As for Home's future, the chef says, "I will definitely continue what I am doing, and doing it better every time. I really have no plans for expansion or anything like that. I have a good team and business size that I can manage, and we are doing well so far.
Home restaurant: 268-461-7651
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