Big Yard, nice vibes - Mannings Hill Road chill spot becoming a hit

January 26, 2018
Harry Toddler
Crowd building up for events at Big Yard on Mannings Hill Road.
From left: Gary Anderson, owner of Elite Sports Bar and artiste Jah Vinci pose by popular athlete honour wall inside Big Yard on Mannings Hill Road .

The weekend is usually the busiest time for the pool halls, sports bars, and cookshops that line Mannings Hill Road, St Andrew, from No. 1 at the Stone's Throw Bar until the end of the road. But right in the middle of things, at No. 59, is party central.

It was after 9 p.m. when THE WEEKEND STAR arrived. A cookshop is at the entrance, and the driveway appears to transform into a yard with more than 20 houses. A man peeps out. "This is Big Yard," he says, as if knowing that the destination is being sought.

It is not uncommon for young talent to stop by Big Yard on Mannings Hill Road seeking a studio space confusing it for the popular Big Yard Recording Studios but end up finding an everyday chill spot.

Patrick Mercy, the owner of the cookshop, is still inside seasoning meat for the next day.

"Big Yard is one big family. It is not just the yard at the front; it extends straight to the end of the lane. One big family own it, with many houses along the way, and it keeps growing. That is how the name come about."

Big Yard boasts heart-warming settings where the pace is somewhat calmer than on the main road. The people are modest with small-town values and high cultural expectations.

"I open from in the morning but stay late, and tonight these young men use the space to do food for the party."

His fritters, fried sprat, festivals, and what he likes to call 'fish sip' are top sellers for the patrons expected for Yeah Yeah Yeah Wednesdays, hosted by Aidonia.

"Like a church brings people together, food do the same thing," said patron Shaun 'Kingston' Grant. "And events bring people, people means community, and with the good vibes, violence stays away."

Along the walkway, images of athletes are plastered on the wall. Gary Anderson of Big Yard and owner of Elite Sports Bar, which is located at the same premises, explains: "It made sense to put teams and athletes like Chevone Marsh, and even those from across the way like Leon Bailey, and especially young ballers from the community, on the wall to show we endorse them."

His sister, Sheryl, said that many artistes pass through Big Yard regularly to show their support.

"From Exodus Studios did over the plaza, Scare Dem Crew days, it has always been a pleasure fi artistes to come a Big Yard just fi hol' a vibes," Harry Toddler said. "Dem support music, dancehall, and one another."

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