A Haitian restaurant in East Acton has garnered a glowing reputation from a myriad of celebrity customers.
Wilford Marous, 49, known to customers as Will, opened Grill Shack and Tiki Bar on The Vale in 2019.
Marous said: “With Covid, it seems like it’s been a long journey, but it has only been four years.”
Edwards lived in Acton and was recommended to try the restaurant by a friend to try the food and cocktails.
He endorsed the restaurant in his social media and brought along celebrity friends and colleagues.
Marous said: “It was a blessing from the sky to have Jamal come here.
“He would bring along other friends after his music sessions.
We miss him very deeply.”
One of the most notable diners to frequent the restaurant with Edwards was Ed Sheeran, who became so enamoured by the atmosphere and the food that he decided to film the music video for his song “Peru” there.
The Grill Shack and Tiki Bar also appeared in the singer’s documentary The Sum of it All.
More celebrities visited after Edwards and Sheeran to take in the atmosphere and to experience authentic Caribbean food.
After working in the commercial finance sector for 10 years, Marous decided that he wanted to start a business as he did not want to go back to the rigid work structure.
Marous said: “It wasn’t planned, I knew I wanted to start my own business, but wasn’t sure which sector I wanted to go into.
“I was looking for something to do – I had my resignation letter ready and went for a two month holiday to Haiti and came back here and decided to start a restaurant.”
He initially decided that he wanted to open a chicken shop with his friends but instead decided there were already plenty in East Acton.
In search for an original concept, Marous then joined forces with his friend, chef Daniel Francois, to bring the true flavours of Haiti to East Acton.
Francois, who operated the first branch of the Grill Shack and Tiki Bar in Bournemouth, helped Marous set up the Grill Shack and Tiki Bar venue and menu in East Acton.
Marous said: “It feels so surreal to still be here.
“We have reached people all around the world and also from Haiti where they have Tiki Bar on their list of places to visit and eat our food.
“People nearby have also started calling me ‘Tiki Man’.”
Although the restaurant has become a local sensation, it still honours its modest beginnings by participating in and hosting activities to connect with the local community.
Cassie Willis, 46, a regular customer since it opened, said: “The owner is really friendly and welcoming.
“When you’re here you really feel like you are a part of the atmosphere, and the food is amazing.
“You would always want to come back.”
Alongside his hospitality towards customers, Marous also hosts local artists in the venue each month to highlight up-and-coming musical talents.
Feature picture credit: Wilford Marous