No matter what the weather is outside, Lakay Island Restaurant in downtown Salem provides guests with a taste of the Caribbean by offering authentic regional cuisine, tropical drinks, and a warm island atmosphere.
Named after the French Creole word for “home,” Lakay is owned by husband and wife team Sarah and Vladimir Lessage. Mr. Lessage, who is originally from Haiti, spent his college years working at his family’s popular Haitian restaurant in Hyde Park.
Wanting to bring the home cooking he loved to the North Shore, he and his wife Sarah decided on Salem as the perfect city to open in. When the downtown Essex Street Mall location became available last fall, they knew they found their spot.
“We had to move on it quickly. The City of Salem was very excited, and really helped us out tremendously getting started” said Vladimir Lessage.
Opening the restaurant was a labor of love for the couple, fueled by difficult losses in 2010.
“My father passed away last September,” said Sarah Lessage. “We knew Dad would want this to happen. And after the devastation Vladimir’s family faced back in Haiti after the earthquake last year, the timing to start anew and the opportunity here in downtown Salem gave us the motivation.”
The couple met in college while attending Framingham State University, both majoring in business. A passion for island home-style cooking and a desire to own their own business helped make the dream a reality.
“We strive for customers to find an authentic Caribbean experience. Our food is flavorful but not too spicy, and with tropical drinks and touches of island atmosphere everywhere, we hope people find Lakay Island Restaurant comfortable place to relax,” Sarah Lessage said.
Chef Jason Blanchard, who has been featured in Boston Magazine and brings years of North Shore cooking experience to the restaurant, was “tutored” on island cooking by none other than Vladimir’s mother, who spent several months on a visit from Haiti sharing her techniques.
Two popular dishes on the menu are the Jerk Chicken and Creole Goat. The menu offers a variety of dishes, including meats and seafood, and can accommodate vegetarians and those with special food needs alike. A function room for private parties is available upon request.
Patrons will also find a mix of tropical drinks such as a fresh Papaya shake on the menu. A full liquor license is pending, and live Caribbean style music has begun to happen at the restaurant on the weekends.
Lakay Island Restaurant
- Address: 168 Essex Street, Salem, MA
- Phone: 978.744.2308
- Hours: Monday – Thursday 12pm-9pm; Friday and Saturdays 12pm-10pm; Sundays 3pm-9pm
- Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover
- Handicap accessible
- Function room available
- Outside patio seating available in warm weather months