“I come here and whether I make a dollar or not I am just happy to be doing what I love," said Jacob Henry. Photo credit: Gabrielle Nadeau

A class assignment on traditional Jamaican patties ignited a light for Jacob Henry, a culinary management grad, who now successfully runs a restaurant in Ottawa’s west end.

“I brought a handmade batch into class for everyone to try,” Henry said. “After that, they were a huge hit.”

Henry, 35, started his business, Run2Patty, while he was ending his studies. Since receiving his diploma in 2019, the business has only continued to grow.

Henry always knew he was good at cooking, but was never sure what it might become. With the push of friends and family, he decided to pursue his dreams.

Henry is of Jamaican descent and grew up eating Jamaican-style cuisine, thus inspiring the theme of his restaurant today.

What began as a small pop-up shop and catering business out of Henry’s home is now a successful local restaurant located in Westboro offering take-out services.

“During my third semester, I started doing pop-up stands here and there, and catering events for friends and family selling my Jamaican patties,” said Henry. “I did the weekly pop-ups every Thursday and the product sales started getting out of control. We had huge lineups of people every week.”

The successful business Henry runs today wasn’t the original plan of pursuit while in culinary management. Never did he think the Jamaican patty business would have taken him this far.

“In one of the course programs, they have international guest chefs come in to teach their classes, and I was one of them, while still being in the program,” he said.

“By third semester I had already been on CBC news and Algonquin was buying the patties off of me,” he said. “By my fourth semester, I had taught a few classes—one at La Cité and a few at Algonquin.”

Run2Patty is a Jamaican-style restaurant that offers a variety of handmade dishes from Jamaican patties, oxtail platters and fried chicken, to lobster, shrimp, calamari and more.

“A lot of love goes into the cooking process,” said Henry. “All the Caribbean dishes are popular, but the jerk chicken dish is the top seller.”

With the transition from a student to chef—although the college had prepared him—there was still growing to be done as a business owner.

While many businesses have struggled through COVID-19, Henry has the lockdown to thank for leaving him with no choice but to open a take-out business.

“Originally I didn’t plan on becoming a restaurant,” he said. “I enjoyed just catering, but once COVID-19 hit all of my catering events were cancelled. The lockdown helped our sales grow, since we offer takeout and other businesses had to close, we saw a rise in our numbers.”

Henry had always enjoyed cooking and Algonquin College helped guide him onto the right track.

“Algonquin gave me the motivation and the inspiration to start my business,” said Henry. “Just being in there and learning pushed me to want to do what I’m doing even more than I thought possible.”

“There are hard days where you worry that your business won’t succeed, but you just have to keep pushing, if this is what you truly want, don’t let anything stop you.”