A superstar opening for The Real Jerk UK

Johnson Reed
2m read

After the success of his brother’s chicken restaurant in Toronto, The Real Jerk, Rodney Campbell wanted to set up another venue in London. The prospect of catering equipment leasing, however, was closed off – until Johnson Reed showed the way through…

The Real Jerk has, over the last 33 years, become the no.1 spot for Caribbean dining in Toronto. Music artist Drake catapulted the business to new heights when the rapper featured the original The Real Jerk eatery in a music video that has since gained over a billion hits on YouTube.

Overnight, the brand’s notoriety skyrocketed. As a result, Rodney and his brother felt they were ready to expand into a new market. They chose a busy London high street for the first UK restaurant, seeking to retrofit a traditional Indian venue.

Inside, they wanted the décor to mimic the Canadian branches. A zinc bar installation was planned, alongside an inventory of specialised equipment. This included a huge grill to retain the brand’s hallmark cooking style. But when Rodney approached big-name lenders, he faced rejection. He didn’t own any property and, despite the proven success of The Real Jerk’s model, didn’t fit their strict requirements for catering equipment leasing.

After six rejections, Rodney spoke to Simeon from Johnson Reed, who instilled confidence in him once more. We liaised with our specialist pool of lenders and quickly came back to him with a solution. If Rodney and his family could muster a reasonable down-payment, we assured him that a lease of £10,000 or more could be achieved.

Subsequently, he chose a three-year purchase plan for catering equipment leasing with £3,000 of his own money paid upfront. The lenders responded with £12,000, which covered The Real Jerk London’s set-up costs. Rodney was overjoyed, describing the result as coming “at the most perfect time”.

Since The Real Jerk opened its doors in the UK, Rodney says that every night has been packed out. Eventually, he aims to own every leased item, whilst laying out scalable plans for the future.

The most important thing, to me, is that Johnson Reed don’t follow a script. Not everyone has the traditional assets to fall back on, and this should be considered when a lender hopes to support brands like ours. They humanised our situation. We are going to become an institution in Great Britain, and that’s partly because of the finance we’ve gained.

Rodney Campbell