Jason Miskiri knows when people hear his name, they think of a basketball player who rose through the ranks to the professional level but presently, he wants to be known as the owner of quality restaurants located in his hometown of Silver Spring, Md.
“I played basketball for many years and the sport has been good to me,” Miskiri said. “But now, I want people to come into my restaurants and enjoy the food and the atmosphere.”
Miskiri played basketball at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Montgomery College for his freshman and sophomore years, his junior and senior years at George Mason University, had a brief stint in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets and other professional teams throughout the country. While honing his basketball skills, Miskiri would cook food from his native Guyana for his family and friends.
His love of food and socializing led to the founding of the JKJ Hospitality Group in 2011 that includes The Society Restaurant & Lounge and seven weeks ago, the opening of The Angry Jerk, an eatery that specializes in Caribbean food. Both restaurants are located in downtown Silver Spring and are within a few yards of each other on the same block. Miskiri said he will open up another establishment, The Breakfast Club, in the same area in a few months.
The Angry Jerk
Miskiri said he started The Angry Jerk out of his love for Caribbean food. The name, he said, has a specific purpose.
“I thought about a name that would be catchy,” he said. “I thought it would stand out among the Caribbean restaurants that are in the area. I also wanted to emphasize jerk food, which is popular in this area. When you add peppers to jerk food, you can say the food becomes angry and that makes it better.”
Miskiri said the richness of Caribbean food with its many herbs and spices “makes for an incredible dining experience.” The Angry Jerk’s menu offers its customers such items as jerk chicken, brown stew chicken with roasted carrots and gravy, jerk salmon, jerk or fried snapper, tacos, salads, rice dishes and slaws, plantains, yucca, macaroni and cheese and roti doe. Sauces to go along with the main items include barbecue and mambo. Customers can carry out or dine in.
“While it is the food that I love, it is really helping people that drives me,” Miskiri said. “In order to have a successful restaurant, you have to like being around and being with people.”
Miskiri said he has faced challenges other Black entrepreneurs have had to endure, such as getting a prime location for his businesses.
“When I came here in 2011 with The Society restaurant, there was nothing in this area,” Miskiri said. “Now you look at it. There are buildings going up everywhere. The foot traffic in this area has increased significantly.”
Miskiri said he wants to expand his restaurant holdings to about 20 within the next five years. He said the Washington metropolitan area will be the main target but won’t rule out going to other cities.
“I would not mind having a restaurant in Baltimore,” he said. “I love Baltimore.”
Whatever plans he has, Miskiri said his sister Samantha and a friend who owns Green OwL Design in Hyattsville, will be part of his future.
Miskiri said maintaining his businesses keeps him going constantly.
“There was a time last month when I only got seven hours of sleep for 48 hours,” he said. “But this is what has to be done to be successful. I employ about 100 people and I work more hours than they do. But I don’t see it as work because I love what I do.”