When Claude Fearon, owner of JR Sweet’s Jamaican Inspired Ice Cream, was growing up in Sandy Bay, Jamaica, Sunday night dessert always meant a slice of his mother’s freshly-baked black cake or carrot pudding, paired with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream. “That was our staple,” says Fearon. “Those are the things that I remember as a kid, and a lot of the people that walk in the door feel like they’re a kid again in Jamaica. It makes them feel good.”
Fearon opened JR Sweet’s, in Toronto’s Oakwood-Vaughan neighborhood, in May 2014 with a vision to share a facet of his culture that was being overlooked. Toronto’s Jamaican community includes numerous places to feast on jerk chicken and curry goat, but nowhere else that specializes in the island’s unique ice-cream flavors. “In Jamaican culture, we have a lot of desserts and it runs pretty deep,” Fearon says. “I want to bring that to Toronto in a more detailed fashion.” Fearon works with different suppliers to offer a vast array of ice cream flavors, including Coconut Rum, and incredibly rich variations on classics like Stout, Mango, Soursop and Grapenut. There are a few unexpected twists like Tequila Lime and Kahlua, but the standard choice is nostalgic like Sunday nights in Sandy Bay: an outstanding Rum Raisin. Loaded with the dried fruit and fragrant like an aged barrel of Appleton, it’s unequivocal.
Fearon isn’t stopping at hype of obtaining exotic delicacies, and sees JR Sweet’s as “progressive business.” He plans to change formulas to produce a more authentic Soursop flavor, and introduce nesberry, a tangy-sweet fruit from Jamaica. After closing for the season in September, JR Sweet’s re-opened on Father’s Day, with additional cakes, pastries and Jamrock-inspired frozen yogurt.