Bartender once voted best in Jamaica opens dream rum bar in Yorkshire

The ‘best’ bartender in Jamaica, who was denied a job in Wetherspoons when he came to England, has opened his dream rum bar in Yorkshire.

Junior Lewis, aged 36, who won of the Taste of the Caribbean 2009 competition, opened Rumkeg876 on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, in December and it is going from strength to strength.

He said: “In Jamaica, you have to find your own way. We didn't have running water in our house. I always said I didn't want to work for anyone.”

Mr Lewis lived with his grandma in Portland from the age of two, moved to his aunt's as a teenager, and has been living in the UK since 2009.

Junior Lewis, who runs the rum bar Rumkeg876 on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield

“My family all worked for themselves. I remember days selling bananas and oranges before I went to school. When my grandad was away farming for six months at a time, I felt I had to be the man of the house.

“For me, my grandma was my mum and my dad. She was my whole family, and it never gets easier. I feel she would be happy, she would be proud that I've done a lot of the work here by myself.”

Mr Lewis previously worked as a chef, bar supervisor, security officer, hotel worker, carer and youth worker at Sheffield Futures, and he still works with children in care on his days off.

He said: “There's a boy I work with who has been in and out of the justice system, he's been getting in trouble a lot. He has got a bad upbringing and not got many male role models - I stay in it for him.”

When the boy leaves care, Mr Lewis plans to do some work with young people on the streets to make a difference in some of their lives.

He said: “I have been approached by an investor already asking me to expand, and I said no. It's not all about the money for me. I don't want to wake up from this dream, let me enjoy it!”

Rumkeg876 is open on Abbeydale Road from Thursday to Sunday each week, providing its unique Bob Marley shots and traditional rum punch.