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Local Restaurant Brings the West Indies to Claremont

Sep 23, 2020 11:06AM ● By Virginia Dean
A small restaurant in Claremont, NH is generating big local talk about its authentic Jamaican food including curried or jerked chickens, oxtail, and curried goat. Owner Errol Letman, 59, first opened his successful Sunshine Cookshop Jamaican Style Restaurant in 2017 in a small corner of town before moving to its current historical location at 37 Pleasant Street.

Letman’s cooking first drew area attention 12 years ago as a vendor at the Newport farmer’s market. Now, he operates the restaurant with his daughter, Gayann Letman, a self-trained chef who grew up around cooking – a vocation that became an early passion, she indicated. She attended Newport Middle High School and, in 2018, opened her own restaurant in Hanover called Leyas Island that closed within five months due to problems with the building’s ownership.

Born in Jamaica, Errol Letman has lived in NH for just over 20 years. He said he was influenced by his mother’s cooking. Some of the menu’s delectable dishes include stew beef, fresh fish, vegetables and rice, sweet potato pie, and plantains. Organic ingredients are used in most of the recipes.

Patrons may also choose Jamaican soda and juices as well as the island’s well-known Red Stripe beer. Other beverage choices include a variety of wines and other craft beers. Entrée prices range from $11-30 and are served with red beans and rice. The Sunshine Cookshop is open Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Side items, such as beef patties or sweet potato pie, are $4. Dine-in, take out or order curbside.

Last winter, the restaurant celebrated its first year in business at 37 Pleasant Street and was recognized as part of the city’s ongoing initiative to acknowledge localized small businesses. Claremont Planning and Development Director Nancy Merrill and Small Business Specialist Rebecca Vinduska organized the event.

Ben Nelson, the owner of Claremont Spice & Dry Goods on 12 Tremont Street, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and noted that Sunshine is “a place you can go to enjoy a truly savory meal that’s authentic but also approachable for people who are new to the cuisine”.


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