As the reggae beats of Bob Marley's "Jamming" plays over the restaurant's sound system, Irie Jamaican Cuisine owner Robert Officer points to a mural painted on a wall inside the eatery.
"It reminds me of Jamaica, but also Chattanooga," he said.
"I love Chattanooga because it is so beautiful and the people are so nice, and it's not too crowded. It's very laid back. Chattanooga is a beautiful place."
Irie is a Jamaican word with several meanings. It can be used for anything that is nice, or good or pleasing. Officer, who moved to the United States almost six years ago from Jamaica to pursue "new opportunities," might also use the word when talking about things that make you happy. He says the word a lot when talking about his restaurant.
"This is a happy place," he said.
The Officers opened Irie about two weeks ago on Dayton Boulevard where a Shuford's Smokehouse once operated. Officer said he worked as a mechanical engineer in Jamaica, but after visiting a friend in Chattanooga, he "fell in love with it" and made plans to move.
The restaurant features a mixture of his own recipes based on dishes his family members make back home.
"Everyone does things a little bit different," he said. "Maybe one has more garlic or a little different level of spice, but they are basically the same."
Officer said the oxtail and jerk chicken dishes have proven to the be the more popular dishes on the menu. The restaurant also serves curry chicken, currie goat and stew beef, chicken, barbecue or pea dishes.
Also on the menu are coco bread, beef, Jamaican curry chicken, beef with cheese and shrimp patties.
The meals are served in Styrofoam containers packed with food. The price is reflective of the amount of food. An entree and two sides range in price from $16 for the steamed cabbages to $24 for the oxtail.
It is easily enough food for two people.
"We want people to leave here happy and full," Officer said, "and, smiling."
Officer, who made sure to greet and introduce himself to each customer, said he and the staff are hoping to add catering in the future, but for now, the goal is to "figure out what people like and want to make their experience better."
IF YOU GO
* What: Irie Jamaican Cuisine, 3224 Dayton Blvd.
* Phone: 423-386-5871
* Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
* Specialties and price range: The oxtail ($24) and jerk chicken ($16) are two of the more popular dishes.