Queens owner determined to rebuild after Jamaican restaurant destroyed by fire

Crystal Cranmore Image
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
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Cornell Campbell says he's determined to rebuild his Jamaican restaurant after it was destroyed by a fire in Far Rockaway, Queens. Crystal Cranmore has the story of resilience.

FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (WABC) -- The owner of Jamaican restaurant in Queens is determined to come back better than ever after a fire destroyed the popular family restaurant.

The loss might have sidelined another owner, but thanks to donations from friends and neighbors, Cornell Campbell believes he won't be down for long.

"I will rise from the ashes," Campbell said. "I can't give up."

There's not much left of the Caribbean restaurant, CC Jerkbox, in Far Rockaway.

"I just broke down. To see your dream destroyed," Campbell said. "Once you come through that gate, you're not in Rockaway, you're not in New York," Campbell said.

Rather, it was a slice of paradise in a remote area along Norton Avenue.

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Owner Cornell Campbell said it caught fire on August 10 while he was visiting Jamaica.

"When I got back the following Wednesday, the first place I came was here," Campbell said.

A group of volunteers helped clear the way for Campbell to rebuild on Tuesday.

"With the temperature in the community right now with everything that's going on, we just wanted to show our solidarity, brotherhood to show local businesses coming together," volunteer William Daniel said.

Campbell invested close to $100,000 into the space. It started out as just a flatbed trailer.

"In the beginning it was just a table in there and I got wood and built it myself," he said.

His dream was 25 years in the making. He started off making jerk chicken in a friend's backyard.

"I was running down the street, offering people chicken, offering the sauce because I knew what I had," Campbell said.

He says the secret is his sauce, which he calls the best in New York.

Campbell says he didn't have insurance, but the outlook is positive. He says the community is behind him.

Someone donated a fridge, and a GoFundMe page has raised a couple thousand dollars.

"If I can get the material, I can rebuild it in three months," Campbell said. "I'm just a family guy trying to make it."

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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