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Jamerica's last day; local group to use restaurant as example for future black-owned businesses

Jamerica's last day; local group to use restaurant as example for future black-owned businesses

MADISON, Wis. - Martin Deacon has proudly served authentic Jamaican food to the people of Madison for the past 25 years. 

On Tuesday, Deacon closed the doors for the last time at his restaurant, Jamerica. 

"It's really emotional," he said. "It's been a long journey and [I have] nothing to regret. I made so many friends along the way."

Jamerica is the second black-owned business to close on Willy Street this year. In February, That BBQ Joint closed

Black-owned businesses are not something you can find just anywhere in Madison. With the loss of two black-owned businesses in a short amount of time, Dr. Ruben Anthony, with the Urban League of Greater Madison, wants to change that in the future. 

"Some cities get it right," Anthony said. "We've got work to do here to create a strong ecological system for businesses to develop, grow, have success and be able to retire like the Jamerica owner."

Anthony said he works with local organizations like the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce to identify black businesses and help them develop. Anthony also said he is trying to provide more opportunity and appeal to minorities to own more local businesses around Madison and pave a path that allows them to be successful.

"We look forward to the next African American restaurant coming about and having the type of success that Jamerica has had in this community," Anthony said. 

Anthony added that patrons play an important role in making that possible, stating that "consumers have to go out and patronize black businesses."

Deacon said his time as a restaurant owner was successful because he made good food and provided a warm, welcome atmosphere for many years in Madison. He said he hopes future business owners can find as much fulfillment and success as he did. 

"All I can do is wish a lot of success," Deacon said. "If there's anything I can do to support, I would be a part of it."

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