What a little patty can do given hard work and ingenuity
If they list the patty as an invention -
Today, the family business called Tastee, churning out over 100,000 of the familiar
The Tastee story is yet again an enduring tale that is worth telling: of modest beginnings; of the dogged pursuit of a dream; of a husband and wife team that determined in their hearts that they must build something for their children and then their country too.
While in the United States, Chang had come across the name “Tasty” which was popular then and he adopted it, giving it an island twist, “Tastee”, and remembers thinking rightly that it “had a nice sound to it”.
Then the genius of Vincent Chang was unleashed. He noticed that Jamaicans had a special liking for the patties. They would line up at lunchtime and wait for long periods to buy the two dozen or so patties sold per day. He started to experiment with the patty, doing things like making the crust flakier, improving on the meat filling and changing the shape and size. For his trouble, the Jamaicans swarmed the little snack shop. They could not get enough of the Tastee patties. Sales of patties made every other item look as if they were not trying and Chang soon realized that he really had something hot on his hands. He rented a bit more space upstairs. After a while, he dropped the other items and concentrated exclusively on patties and drinks, the working man’s lunch.
Two years after buying the little snack shop in Union Square, from which he was now
selling 1,000 patties a day, Chang decided it was time to expand and bought premises
with an old house at 25a Half-
Chang recognized that the old method of making patties could not handle the growing demand. “We used to do everything by hand so I introduced more equipment and the business really picked up fast,” he says. He did more than just introduce more equipment.
The closest thing to a patty-
All the time, Chang was wondering how he could make the Coulburn work for patties. Then an idea struck him. He would modify the machine so that it could be used to bake patties. He ordered the first such machine, paying US$16,720 for it, saying proudly that it is still in production today. Patty production and sales went through the roof.
The company’s growth was staggering. By 1969, Tastee had 40 employees. First the
Church Street branch in downtown Kingston. By 1971, with the completion of the new
factory at 25a H-
By 1973, two more branches were added at Princess Street and Port Royal Street, Kingston. While this was happening, a strong market was developing among schools and wholesalers who were doing a thriving business retailing the patties.
Tastee started the promotional Tastee patty-
New outlets sprung up at West parade downtown and Constant Spring uptown. Tastee
bought additional premises at No 1 Sylvan Avenue which is off the Half-
During this phase, the strategic New Kingston branch was opened on Knutsford Boulevard
to go after middle-
It was inevitable that Tastee, after nearly saturating the Jamaican market, would begin to look overseas. Tastee patty’s reputation had preceded, especially in places where many Jamaicans lived overseas. On trips back home, they liked to buy the patties and take back with them. Tastee has added Antigua and Barbuda in the eastern Caribbean and Cayman, shipping one container of patties each week to both destinations.
Four years ago too, the Montego Bay factory was opened. From there, the western end of the island is served, covering outlets in Falmouth, Trelawny but also as far away as Ocho Rios and Brown’s Town in St Ann, and in Mandeville. It is also from there that the Tastee plans to target more aggressively the overseas market, starting with the larger Caribbean islands, like Trinidad and Tobago.
Tastee has annual turnover of JA$800 million. To support that, over 6,000 cows have to be slaughtered each year, more than 31,000 bags of flour and tens of thousands of pounds of chicken meat utilized, driving its benefits deep into the Jamaican economy.
Tastee spends over $10 million a year in community services. Commitment to education through numerous scholarships, and assistance to staff in housing, are key. The company also donates JA$1 million to drug addiction prevention programs and supports the Youth for Christ, its Christian neighbor.