Archie’s Tropical Cuisines offers Rowan County a little bit of paradise

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

SALISBURY — Archie’s Tropical Cuisines is looking to shake things up in Salisbury.

North Carolina is home to some of the best Southern food around, so for a new restaurant to stand out, it needs to break the mold and have its own distinct spirit in order to attract customers. Michael and Cherrelle Archie think that they have what it takes to become a staple in the community.

Michael and Cherrelle are both from Rowan County. They met 12 years ago and share a love for food that has only strengthened since deciding to open a restaurant together.

“By the time I met him, I just knew this is something that we were going to do. This was always my passion, this was always his passion, and then we met and it just clicked,” Cherrelle said.

Michael has been cooking for over 2o years, specializing in West African and Jamaican cuisine. His family is from the Caribbean and growing up, he was raised in the restaurant business. One of his father figures had previously owned a Jamaican restaurant in the county before moving to Charlotte. He was able to mentor Michael by having him pick up ingredients, spices, and watching family members cook.

“I just kind of learned from different styles and inbreeded them, infused them all to mine,” Michael said.

Over the years, Michael helped other people with their restaurants, but eventually decided to go out on his own. “To create opportunities for my family as well.”

Michael and Cherrelle soon started a catering business together, cooking outside with a big smoker at different locations. This would become challenging after a while, to the point where they had to stop and look at other possibilities.

“It just got too complicated with all the equipment and having to keep moving, setting up. Somedays we might catch a rain shower and have to pack up immediately,” Michael said.

The two of them decided it was time to run a brick and mortar restaurant. They found the perfect spot for it on Jake Alexander Boulevard where a Subway used to be, but it took time to get off the ground. Getting the correct permits took longer than expected and COVID further complicated matters. However, they were able to get back on track and opened Archie’s this past Friday.

“When you come through our doors, we want you to feel a certain vibe. The tone that we’re setting in here, we’re going to have soft reggae music, we’re going to have good food. When you come in here we want you to feel relaxed, we want you to feel comfortable. This is a place that you can unwind,” Cherrelle said.

The inside decor is inviting and friendly. Everything was researched beforehand from choosing a color scheme to the handmade instruments on display. There is a hand cut bamboo bar area and the walls are lined with old reggae albums and portraits. Archie’s is dead set on bringing Caribbean culture, music and food to Rowan County.

“We wanted to be in this community because you have to either travel to Charlotte or Greensboro to the nearest Caribbean restaurant,” Michael said. “They don’t always have to go to Charlotte. We can keep the money in the community.”

The menu has authentic dishes like oxtails that may throw some off, but having unique, delicious food is a key to success for a new restaurant.

“When you grow up in Carolina, you’re used to the barbecue, the fried chicken…When you actually have Caribbean food, just those herbs alone, perfect,” Corey Angle, Cherrelle’s brother, said.

At first, Archie’s will only have family members working at the restaurant. Michael’s godbrother from Jamaica will be working in the kitchen, too. They benefit from having a “great family support system.” Archie’s wants live reggae bands to perform in their parking lot or to have a jerk festival to get people acclimated to what they are providing. “Music is a part of my life, too…It all goes together,” Michael said.

Archie’s is going out of its way to be a place that is not like everything else in Rowan County. Its success hinges on customers being prepared to get out of their comfort zone even if it is only for lunch or dinner.

“Be willing to open up and try new things. Learn new things, just don’t be stuck in one place in one category,” Michael said.

Archie’s Tropical Cuisine’s is located at 1953 Jake Alexander Blvd W. in Salisbury.