Ria and Kevol Graham have sort of an unusual origin story when it comes to their restaurant, Kokomo. The Caribbean-inspired spot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, opened in July 2020 — four months after COVID lockdowns started and the couple’s second child was born.
The two had worked in the restaurant business previously, with Ria doing marketing and sales for another Caribbean restaurant and Kevol having worked as a chef. But neither of them had opened their own restaurant before, and the timing, well, couldn’t have been worse.
“We had invested our life savings and also enlisted our parents to invest in this venture. It was a huge bet on ourselves,” Ria told Forbes. “Adding the pressure of COVID-19 took it to another level.”
Ria and Kevol were told by multiple friends and industry experts to not open the restaurant. They were told repeatedly that Kokomo would never make it, especially as already-established local restaurants were closing every day due to the pandemic.
But still, despite being first-time restaurant owners with little knowledge of how to run a business, let alone run one during a pandemic, they moved forward with their plans. They shared their story on social media, and they’re proud to say Kokomo is still open and thriving almost three years later — plus, the overachieving couple somehow managed to find time to welcome their third child in January 2022.
Now Kokomo boasts a positive New York Times review and a glowing reference from the Infatuation that describes it as “like attending a party,” along with a fully stocked menu of Caribbean-inspired meals and drinks.
In The Know was able to visit the restaurant and try out several of Kevol’s favorite dinner menu items, which we highly recommend for any future patrons.
In The Know’s favorite Kokomo appetizers:
Oxtail flatbread with tomato confit, fried onions and blended Italian cheeses.
Sweet glazed gochujang wings.
Curry rock shrimp tempura.
Roasted stuffed, sweet plantains with sauteed callaloo, chadon beni aioli and crispy coconut bread crumbs.
In The Know’s favorite Kokomo entrees:
Slow-braised oxtail with rice, peas and seasonal vegetables.
Red peppa jerk chicken with rice, peas and seasonal vegetables.
Koko’s island pasta with tomatoes, basil, island cream sauce, topped with portobello mushrooms and mixed peppers.
Koko’s chicken and waffles with house syrup and warm berry compote.
Calypso burger topped with Gruyère cheese, grilled pineapple, lettuce, guava barbecue sauce, served with a side of seasoned fries.
In The Know’s favorite Kokomo dessert:
The passionfruit rum mango sorbet.
Visit Kokomo at 65 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, N.Y. The restaurant is closed on Mondays but open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays.
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