Calypso Mama joins other Caribbean cafes in Greensboro


Ayanna Miller and Falesha Brodie

Oxtail slow cooked to tender perfection in a flavorful brown sauce? Decor that mimics the atmosphere of the islands? No problem!

Owned by married couple Junior Nangoo and Donna Kellawan, Calypso Mama Caribbean Café has created a significant buzz in the Greensboro, NC area.

Kellawan has a business background but admits that owning a restaurant is something that just seemed to fall in their lap.

The two moved from Brooklyn, New York in 2005 and has since resided in the area for about 10 years.

Growing up, Kellawan never liked cooking. And she never really cared for the food that her grandmother would prepare. But after moving out of grandmother’s home at the age of 17, she quickly realized that “New York living” was expensive.

She also realized the lack of good Caribbean restaurants.

Because of this, she decided to start cooking for herself. She started with Italian recipes then decided to channel her Guyanese roots and slowly transitioned into making more West Indian food, to which she credits her husband Nangoo.

“If I didn’t marry somebody West Indian, I wouldn’t even have realized that I had all of this inside of me,” she said.

She then began hosting dinners, and her guests were so impressed that they suggested she open a place of her own.

Kellawan is a woman of faith who believes God plays a role in everything. She is confident that he is who led her to the building on Phillips Ave., and revealed to her the name of the restaurant. Which coincidentally is also the name of one of the founders of Calypso music.

Her husband, Nangoo found the place in 2014 and a few months later, they were up and running.

“I wanted some place where I could cook like home. And when we finally opened, I didn’t expect it to do so well so quickly. The kitchen almost became small. You have to be careful what you wish for,” said Kellawan.

All food, which Kellawan describes as “clean cooking”, is washed thoroughly and cooked fresh daily at the café. And each dish is an original.

“I think a lot of what made us successful is our commitment to authentic flavor,” says Kellawan.

She also gives much of the gratitude to her customers.

“Some friends of mine referred me to Calypso Mama. I’ve so many great things about this place, so I decided to finally come to give it a try,” said patron Lana Barber.

According to Kellawan, opening this cafe has introduced her and her family to the melting pot of cultures that she did not know was present in Greensboro. She believes that the restaurants’ genuine vibe is what attracts people to Calypso Mama.

After 4 years of success, Kellawan says that owning a restaurant is very tedious work, but the connection she makes the locals makes everything worth it.

“We look at is as good love, good food, and family,” she said.

Kellawan said that she is not opposed to expanding her restaurant to another location as long as she has good help and the authenticity can stay as constant as the flagship restaurant.

For Kellawan and Nangoo, Calypso Mama is more than being a ‘mom and pop’ restaurant. It’s about to drive and ethics.

“At the end of the day, we’re the perfect example of not having a plan, but just loving life and what you can take from it every day because it’s part of the bigger picture,” says Kellawan.

If you’re interested in some authentic Caribbean flavor for your palate, you can visit the restaurant on 1600 Phillips Ave or call them at (336)-617-6013. You can also use the coupon AttitudeOfGratitude93 for 12% off your next meal.