Kingston Tropical Bakery sits under the train tracks at the corner of White Plains Road and East 226th Street in the Bronx. A sidewalk-facing case filled with golden Jamaican-style beef patties lures customers inside, where shelves are loaded with fresh breads, buns, and other Caribbean treats.
But this is more than a bakery. After fifty years in business, Kingston is a neighborhood institution and gathering place for the local Jamaican community. Manager Caroline Sinclair grew up in Jamaica and worked in banking before a career change brought her to the Bronx thirty years ago; today she oversees operations with a sharp eye on quality.
Kingston isn't the only bakery selling patties in town, but it's one of the few that makes them from scratch. Others have switched to industrialized methods for efficiency—by Sinclair's account, at the expense of flavor.
“We're very old-fashioned,” she says, her arms filled with fresh Scotch bonnet chiles and thyme. As she eyes retirement, Sinclair is concerned about Kingston's future. “When you get to my age, you have to think about what you're going to do after,” she says with a pensive gaze. “But for now, I love what I'm doing and that makes a difference.”