A pandemic, Brexit and a harsh winter are not the ideal conditions for opening a new business - but a bold restaurant owner from Wandsworth is taking his chances.

Chef Tee, 26, will be serving-up a second helping of sunshine from his latest Caribbean restaurant on Lavender Hill.

The Wandsworth Times last spoke to the budding business owner in September 2020 when he opened his first restaurant, Sugarcane, on Wandsworth Road.

Dedicated to hiring care leavers and with an environmental ethos to boot, the family-style restaurant soon became a community favourite.

Now Chef Tee is back with another eatery to his name - a takeaway spot specialising in vegan food.

‘Likkle Sugarcane’ is set to open in mid-March, but the plans have been a long time in the making.

“Since I was at university and I dreamed of having a restaurant, my vision was for one on this road,” said Chef Tee.

“When it was up for sale it was busted and broken, and no-one wanted it. But the pandemic grants have given me a chance to invest.

“Sugarcane was always supposed to be a Wandsworth brand – SW11’s finest Caribbean food – not in Brixton or Camberwell or across the river.

“Right now, I’m trying to build a brand. I have to seize the opportunity,” said the 26-year-old.

Chef Tee hopes to maintain the laid-back charm of his original restaurant, but with a fresh focus.

Specialising in traditional Caribbean food with a plant-based twist, he believes he’s tapped into a niche.

“Everyone’s going vegan at the moment; it’s so popular.

“So, I’ve developed my own recipes for jerk jackfruit, jerk pumpkin and banana blossom salt fish and akee. There are also curries, cocktails and cakes.”

Already, Sugarcane attracts customers from far beyond Wandsworth – from East London and Essex, who come for the story as well as the dishes.

And after winning a Government ‘kickstarter’ grant, Sugarcane’s dishing out even more food for the soul.

The grant enables up to 15 employees to work at the restaurant, who are aged 16-24 and on Universal Credit.

For many this will be their first job, providing work experience, a good reference, and training at South Thames College.

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Chef Tee is looking forward to brighter times when restrictions are eased, and everyone’s hard work will begin to pay off.

“I opened the restaurant because I wanted people to be happy, not because I was chasing money.

“I’m looking forward to the summer, where people can sit outside the restaurant and enjoy cocktails together in the sun.”

Sugarcane is at 517 Wandsworth Rd, SW8 4PA and is available on Deliveroo or Uber Eats for takeaway.

Likkle Sugarcane is at 50 Lavender Hill, SW11 5RH, opening TBD.

You can get updates on Instagram here.