Mowatt brings Island Vibes on and off the Arkansas track
National 400 metres hurdler Kemar Mowatt is bringing the Jamaican flavour on and off the track with his food truck, Island Vibes, in Arkansas.
Mowatt said he wanted to do it since he attended and competed for the University of Arkansas.
"It's something that I always wanted to do, being that there weren't any Jamaican restaurants here and having the background that I have with my mom having her own restaurant in Jamaica before she moved to the States," he explained. "I wanted to carry on that tradition (and) be the first to introduce the taste of Jamaica here in Arkansas."
However, he said managing track and field and business is burdensome as both career paths are very demanding.
"Both of them are their own worlds... it's difficult," he said. "So having meets in Europe (and) all over the country while running a full-blown operation daily, I have to figure out how to get ahead, and sometimes I have to get people to work for me for the week."
He said this helped his athletic career and other athletes in the area.
"It's (the food he sells) healthy... it's home-cooked. All of the athletes here at the University of Arkansas eat it, not only the Jamaican athletes, athletes from all over the world," Mowatt said.
On the other hand, he said it is not ideal for him to eat it all the time, as a professional athlete, and so he limits his intake.
"I had to stop myself from eating there every day, but I eat there like four times out of the week. I am still in shape and still physically ready to run some fast times," he said.
To achieve his athletic goals, this was an important step to make.
"For athletics, the goal is always to get better, stronger and improve my time. I've been to the Olympics and several World Championships and have world medals. The goal is always to try and get a medal because there's no greater pride than having a medal around your neck at the highest level representing your country. I am focused, and I'm just excited to see the possibilities," said the 2019 Pan American Games 400 metres hurdles bronze medallist.
Although he loves track and field, Mowatt, who graduated in 2018 after completing a double major in geology and earth science, said he would eventually have to choose business over running.
"It (track and field) got me to levels I never knew I would be able to get to, so I will forever be grateful to track and field to get me to where I am, and then when it comes on to business, it's something I'm natural at," Mowatt said.
"At this point in my life, I'm 28 years old, and my brain is leaning more towards business. With track and field, you can do it for so long, and I've done a lot in track and field even though there's a lot more to do."
Mowatt's business celebrated its first anniversary recently, and he said he is looking forward to more years of pursuing the virtue.
"The people in North West Arkansas love Island Vibes and just love what we are doing. They love the food, they love the culture... the Jamaican culture is so huge over here. Honest, it's just a blessing," he said.