Jannicia Samuel
Jannicia Samuel

She is a true people person who loves sharing her passion for cooking and culinary arts, ensuring a smile with each plate. That's Jannicia Samuel of Marigot, owner of La Petite Bistro.

A journey of grit and determination, she says, is how she got to where she is today. La Petite Bistro began in 2008 while she was still a student at the Dominica State College.

"I started by selling cakes, beef, and fish pies from a tray on afternoons after I got back to Marigot and on days I did not have any classes at the College. I realized from early on that I have a passion for cooking and catering. This later grew and I started doing full meals, then selling from the back of my jeep," she said.

She then began expanding using tables and tents.

"Through patience, careful planning brick by brick. Through God's grace, I built La Petite Bistro. I am so humbled and thankful to God each day when I think back on this journey," she said.

Embarking on this journey has led Jannicia to discover and overcome several challenges, some of which were unique to her business; others, she admits, are faced by just about every enterprise.

"What's more, those challenges always sometimes seem to morph. In other words, they are never constant," she told The Sun.

One of the challenges she has had to adapt to is the COVID-19 pandemic which pretty much caught the entire country off guard.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly greatly impacted business and life in general. One of the main things that come to mind is the added expense and strain on the bottom line," she said.

This small business owner is hard at work making La Petite Bistro a household name not just in Marigot but around the country.

"We strive to create excellence each and every day… our menus are fresh and different each day. Our menus are also 'contact-less which is a great plus in the current COVID environment. Customers are able to scan a QR code and taken to our menu," she said.

Jannicia's business is having a much-desired effect on her community as she currently employs three individuals.

"All of our ingredients are purchased fresh from local farmers and fishermen. So the impact on the community is certainly there," she said.

Creole season celebrations usually heat up in the month of October; however, this year things are different due to the coronavirus pandemic. Samuel believes that in spite of the restrictions due to the spike in COVID cases, Dominicans must still take time out to celebrate their heritage through the culinary arts.

"It is extremely important that we not only maintain our local cuisine but it is equally important that we promote it. Major positive strides are being made in the tourism sector in our country. We must proudly present to our visitors authentic Dominican cuisine," she said.

Though not starting off with much, Samuel was never daunted and made the best use of whatever resources were available to her.

"When I started I knew nothing about running a business. One of the very first resources I got was through the DYBT and the Small Business Unit," Samuel said.

Starting one's own business is not for the faint of heart. Samuel has a few words of wisdom for those wishing to follow the route of self-employment.

"Going into a business you must be prepared to work hard. Period. Put grand ideas on getting rich fast out of your mind and be prepared to put in the work. You must be prepared mentally for this. Your business idea depends on it," she said.