Racquel Fields is a self-described snotty-nosed kid from the South Side of Chicago. She has taken the nurturing she received from adults as a teen working for After-School Matters and used it to help her build a successful business. Fields and her former partner, Tim Bradshaw, created 14 Parish, a Caribbean style restaurant, in 2016. 14 Parish was originally located in the South Loop neighborhood, the restaurant has moved to a new location in Hyde Park. Fields is dedicated to providing an upscale dining experience while educating her customers about rum.
What inspired you to open 14 Parish Restaurant & Rhum Bar?
14 Parish is Caribbean fusion. It was started with a good friend of mine, Tim Bradshaw, who was my partner at the last location. He’s from Jamaica. We married our visions centered on Caribbean cuisine and really good American food. We created a more upscale experience for Chicago when it comes to Caribbean food. When we moved into this location, we coupled the concept of the restaurant with the rum bar side. We have over 100 rums on our bar. We have worked together to really produce some interesting innovative cocktails using rum. We don’t feel like rum is explored enough in Chicago. We are working to educate the public about rum and convert people. If you are a vodka, gin, cognac or whiskey drinker, we have something on the bar that you will thoroughly enjoy.
What are the challenges as a Black woman running a restaurant?
The first challenge is just being Black and the lack of access to information and resources. We don’t come into the entrepreneurial world on the same footing as our White counterparts. I hit a lot of roadblocks. I didn’t have that knowledge and support. I stumbled and bumped my head against a lot of stuff. It’s the grit that keeps me going. It keeps me fresh, vibrant and open to learning.
What do you recommend to a whiskey drinker who comes to 14 Parish for the first time?
As a whiskey drinker, I would recommend the plantation double-aged dark. It’s a rum aged in whiskey barrels for five years. Aged one time in whiskey barrels and one time in cognac barrels, it’s full-bodied with a super rich flavor and it’s not a sweet as a cognac, so whiskey drinkers will really appreciate it. It’s extremely versatile. You can drink it neat, you can drink it on the rocks and it’s the float on our Mai Tai.
What’s next on your agenda?
I really want to do my own rum. I think it would be dope to be able to produce my own spirit and sell it [at] my own bar. I’m also looking to open more locations.
Visit 14 Parish at 1644 E. 53rd St., Chicago, Ill., 60615.