RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond restaurant owner won big on the Food Network game show, "Guy's Grocery Games," and shared her winnings with her employees.
Carena Ives owns Carena’s Jamaican Grille and Jamaica House Restaurant in Richmond.
Ives appeared on the show Wednesday alongside celebrity chef and host Guy Fieri. Fieri sends four talented chefs running through the aisles in a high-stakes, high-skills grocery store cooking competition, according to the network’s website.
The local restaurateur made a clean sweep and earned a cash prize of $17,500.
Ives decided to pay it forward to her staff after a difficult few years through the pandemic. She offered them the choice of an all-expense paid trip or a paid week off to spend time their families.
“If our focus was not our people we would’ve lasted one year, maybe two years. The fact is that we kept it kept the party straight. We made sure that we could sustain our business and be in business for a very long time,” Ives said.
The episode was filmed in August 2021, and Ives closed her restaurants at the end of December for her staff to enjoy the time off. Her employees opted to stay home with their families and take a paid week off since the Omicron variant was raging at the time.
“It gave us the opportunity to say thank you to everyone, you guys worked really, really hard. You helped build our business. And this is one little, small token of our things,” Ives explained.
Ives met Fieri when he brought the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” to her Southside location in 2019. She admitted that she doesn't cook often at her restaurants, but instead leaves that responsibility to her talented chefs.
She shared that her favorite part of filming the new episode was the connections she made with other chefs.
She sees her mission as a transplant from Jamaica is promoting her home country’s food and cultures. Ives moved her Jamaica House Restaurant to 416 West Broad Street during the pandemic.
She credits her approximately 60 employees for her longtime success in Richmond since 1994.
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