Be Irie curry chicken and rice Credit: Tameisha Brown

Tameisha Brown couldn’t sleep one night, so she rose from bed and started sketching out ideas for her future restaurant: dishes, decor, uniforms, potential locations, and names. That was in eighth grade in Waukegan, where her family settled just a few years earlier after emigrating from Jamaica.

Brown’s 38 now, and all those ideas have shifted and changed over the years, but one thing’s been constant: it’s going to be irie. That restaurant comes to life Monday when Brown brings Be Irie to Monday Night Foodball, the Reader’s weekly chef pop-up at Ludlow Liquors.

Brown is a marketing project manager by day, but she moonlights working prep and on the line at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, where she first popped up last November.

She settled on the name Be Irie, which means “be all right, feel good,” because “it was the first name that felt like a reflection of who I am, what my food represents, and the Jamaican culture all at once.”

Be Irie BBQ chicken wings Credit: Colin Mohr

On the menu, that’ll translate into jerk BBQ chicken wings, inspired by her Uncle Rohan who runs the grill at family barbecues, and the Steirs Jerk Center, which the family regularly hits up on visits back to the island. “He’s shared a lot with me about how to make good jerk chicken, from the seasoning to the grilling,” she says. “The jerk spot in Jamaica is the kind of place where we order ahead because they take pride in what they do to make good food, not quick food. Between them both, it’s increased my appreciation for the process behind the food I make and share with others.”  

Be Irie rummy bread puddin’ Credit: Colin Mohr

That’s also going to carry over to her curry chicken and rice, its spice cooled with a creamy side of rasta pasta. You’ll want to finish off with a square of her Appleton Estate Signature rum-infused bread pudding, a mystery she unlocked from her Aunt Patricia (“She’s definitely one of those ‘I don’t have recipes’ people.”).

Speaking of sugarcane spirits, the kids behind the bar will be mixing up something sweet and rummy. Tip generously.

This taste of the future starts at 5 PM, Monday, February 27. No preorders. Just walk on in at 2959 N. California and everything’s gonna be all right.

There are plenty more doings afoot at Ludlow as we slide into spring and onto that sprawling patio. Check it out: