After months of delays, a soul food and Caribbean cafe will finally open in Tuscaloosa this Spring, and patrons can get an early taste from a food truck each weekend until then.

The Thread was the first to tell readers about Jake's Cafe coming to Tuscaloosa on McFarland Boulevard next to Dunkin Donuts, in the space where the Hwy 55 Burgers & Fries once occupied.

That was nine months ago, though, last May, and Jake's executive chef and co-founder Teresa "Ree Ree" McLaughlin estimated they could get open by July or August 2023.

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Like many would-be business owners in Tuscaloosa, the team at Jake's has seemingly learned that things take longer to get running here, and McLaughlin's work was cut out for her at the Jake's location, which was gutted by an arsonist's fire in 2018.

After a long silence about the Tuscaloosa spot, management took to Facebook Friday to tell fans that Jake's will still open up shop here this spring.

"Trust and believe we want Jake’s Soul Food Cafe Tuscaloosa open!" they posted. "It’s been a journey and a learning experience!"

A graphic in the post now teases April 2024 as the target opening date, and management said beginning next weekend, people can get a sneak peek or what to expect at the restaurant by visiting the Jake's food trailer, which will set up in the parking lot of the soon-to-come store every Saturday and Sunday until the grand opening.

The restaurant, which McLaughlin launched with her brother in Pelham 12 years ago, hit its stride in Hoover, where the siblings' second location boomed in popularity.

When interviewed last year, McLaughlin said newcomers to Jake's should try the Kingston Combo, which comes with Jerk Chicken, Curry Chicken, three Oxtails, rice and peas, a plantain and a piece of cornbread -- a true sampling of their Caribbean cuisine.

Alternatively, Jake's also offers a mouth-watering menu of southern soul food classics including fried chicken wings, catfish, pork chops, macaroni & cheese, collard greens and much more.

Tuscaloosa will soon have the opportunity to try Jake's for themselves when it finally opens this spring; For more exclusive coverage of restaurant and retail development in west Alabama - and we have a whole slew of it coming this week - stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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