Local eatery serves up hand-made beef patties

Photographer / Kerch Creative 

Immediately upon entering Patties of Jamaica, one gets a feeling of being welcome. Owner, Stefan Seung, has a charm and relaxed disposition that pervades the establishment, as does the inviting aromas that emanate from the bustling kitchen.

Back in 198,1 Stefan’s parents, Henry and Theresa, decided to offer Indy a taste of their native Jamaica, after moving to the U.S. a few years earlier. As a ten-year-old, Stefan would hop on a bus to the restaurant in the afternoons after school to help his dad in the kitchen, slowly but surely learning the ins and outs of crafting the hand-made beef patties the establishment would become known for.

“My dad couldn’t get patties here, and he would drive to Toronto and get them while he was there,” Stefan says. “After a while he realized he should find a way to make them himself, so that was really how the restaurant began.”

To Stefan’s recollection, Patties of Jamaica was the first Caribbean eatery to come onto the Indy scene, and he feels the restaurant was able to succeed in the early days by filling such a unique niche.

“Indianapolis is much more international today than it was that many years ago,” he says. “My mom supported my dad while he started the restaurant, but it was reasonably successful and before long the word started to spread.”

After Henry and Theresa passed away, Stefan officially took over as co-owner of the restaurant with his wife, Jerusha. Since, perfected the art of the Jamaican patty.

“With cooking the food, it was like driving a stick shift – I had an idea of how it all worked watching my dad do it, but never really took over and did it,” Stefan says. “I was always aware of what dad was doing and I helped him, but after he passed away I had no choice but to really learn.”

To this day, Stefan adheres to the same recipes his parents used, and his kitchen staff, consisting of his nephew, Jeremiah Harris, and head chef, Alma Yonker, crank out around 500 beef patties every day. The simple, savory patties consist of ground beef and spices wrapped up in a flour crust, and customers can also request chicken or veggie patties that are typically available frozen.

Over the years, Stefan has expanded the menu to include oxtail stew and curry chicken stew, as well as chicken wings, breasts and legs, but his beef patties remain a best seller.

“I’ve always followed dad’s recipe, and with the other food we’ve put on the menu I tried to make it the way I think he would have,” Stefan says.

Patties of Jamaica has its share of regulars, some dining in multiple times per week.

“One thing I really like is that when a new customer comes in, one of our older customers will tell them about the patties – it’s like they’re working for me and doing my job,” Stefan says with a laugh. “I really appreciate that. Our customers are great.”

Yonker feels Stefan and Jerusha have successfully continued not only the quality cuisine but also the unique, relaxed dine-in atmosphere that Henry and Theresa built.

“We see adults now that have been coming here since they were kids, and now they’re bringing their kids,” Yonker says, an employee of Stefan’s since 2013. “Some people who come here once a week will run into someone here who they haven’t seen in years and hug them – it’s like this has become a place to reconnect.”

Stefan looks forward to continuing he parents’ culinary legacy with Jerusha for years to come.

“It’s good to see people enjoy the food after this long and talk about it,” he says. “One of our customers came in the other day and said he’s eaten patties all over the world, and he’s never found patties that are better than here. That was nice to hear.”

Patties of Jamaica is located at 5172 Allisonville Road in Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-253-4006 or visit facebook.com/Patties-of-Jamaica-113369608696459.