Jamila Ross and Akino West both work in the restaurant and hospitality industry, but that’s about where the similarities end.
When the couple, who had dated for several years before becoming a couple, opened the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast in Miami in 2018, their schedules were grueling. “We were there 24/7,” Ms. Ross said. “Our differences weren’t situational, but there were times when we didn’t want to be close to each other.”
Both 29 years old, Ms. Ross is the more creative of the two; Mr. West is methodical. She is talkative and outgoing; he is more reserved.
Being in close quarters while taking care of others turned out to be a bit difficult.
“I didn’t always agree with his vision and vice versa, but we learned that one of us has to let go and become the taller person,” Mr. West said.
The couple met in January 2013 while studying cooking at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami. One day, as he was about to leave campus, she complimented his black BMW.
“I introduced myself and we had a short chat,” said Ms. Ross, who grew up in Yonkers, NY. She received an Associate’s Degree in Food Service, Cooking and Food Service Management from the Culinary Institute of America in 2012, and a Bachelor of Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales in 2015. “He was shy, but I was. liked the way he presented himself, ”she said. “I thought we were on the same page.”
Born and raised in Riviera Beach, Florida, Mr. West thought Ms. Ross had a “beautiful smile” and asked for her phone number. After texting for a few days, she started a date for dinner. On the comfort food at the Yardbird Southern Table and Bar on South Beach, they had a fun culinary debate, but didn’t agree on much.
“They didn’t match at first because their personalities are so different,” said Reggie Napier, 28, Mr. West’s best friend.
Ms. Ross thought Mr. West was cool and he was drawn to his bubbly personality. But each was kept after past relationships. Mrs. Ross had learned that a boyfriend had recently been unfaithful; Mr West was injured when the parents of a former girlfriend, who was Puerto Rican, said they did not want their daughter to have “a black baby.”
They dated for a few months before Ms Ross, who also worked as a manager-in-training at the SLS South Beach hotel, was offered a restaurant supervisor position in Kuwait and Dubai by parent company sbe in the spring of 2013. . She has accepted. employment and left university temporarily.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. West, who was a chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink restaurant in Miami’s Design District, interned at Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant.
“We have had challenging and rewarding experiences that have been stepping stones to our careers,” Ms. Ross said of her work overseas separately. The two lost sight of each other.
In 2016, after everyone returned to Miami, Ms Ross texted Mr West, who had obtained his bachelor’s degree in food and beverage management from Johnson & Wales. They met for a casual dinner.
“I was a fan of him even though I once said I would never date a chef because our industry is so fierce and hot-tempered,” she said with a laugh. “But he was different and silent, a young man who knew what he wanted and was already excelling in his career. It was sexy for me.
Mr. West said he “was delighted to see Jamila. She was cute and outgoing, and I liked her build and her hair.
Romanticism came quickly. Mr West was in the process of moving to a new job as the breakfast sous chef at Verde’s Pérez Art Museum in Miami, which was close to where Ms Ross lived. He came almost every night, eager to share an elaborate meal after a long day. “I loved showing off my cooking, and since Jamila was also a foodie, she seemed very honest about the quality rating,” he said. “We have shown our love through food.”
In 2017, Ms. Ross moved into Mr. West’s home near the Aventura section of Miami. “I had to get used to living in someone else’s house,” she said. “Akino said it was ours; I said it was his. We haven’t communicated enough about our problems.
Mr. West was relaxing from work playing the “Call of Duty” video game at 1 a.m. in their bedroom. Ms. Ross, who also had a full-time job, could not sleep.
“I told him that’s what I do, it allows me to scream, get away from it all and reconnect with friends,” Mr. West said. “But we finally made a compromise, and now I have my own playroom.”
They also argued over Ms Ross leaving her hair products in plain view and not rinsing off the soap after a shower. “I tried to be clean, but it’s cleaner,” she said.
“They are banging their heads like two bulls,” said his mother, Katrina West. “But Jamila and Akino have the same standards and goals, so when they don’t agree, they end up getting along.”
It didn’t take long for the couple to start working together. In 2017, after managing three South Florida Airbnbs, they purchased and managed their own Airbnb in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood. (They made it their home in April 2020.)
“I was more able to connect with Jamila on a deeper level than with any other woman,” Mr. West said. “When I’m with her, I can be myself.”
On New Years Eve, as the year turned to 2018 and the couple watched the fireworks from the beach, Mr. West knelt down and proposed. Mrs. Ross cried and said yes.
“Akino made me a better person,” she said. “I thought I was together, but he showed me ways to improve myself. I became more confident in public speaking and dealing with others because of his love and support. “
Six months later, Ms Ross and Mr West bought and renovated an old Overtown building in which they planned to open the Copper Door Bed & Breakfast. Mrs. Ross took care of the business and Mr. West cooked and looked after the kitchen; they found themselves too busy to plan a wedding.
They did, however, find the time to start seeing a therapist in 2019. “With our different styles, in addition to working together for much longer hours than ever before and living together, counseling was needed to help us communicate and connect. compromise, ”Ms. Ross said.
“Akino and I grew up independently and together, and we are happy that we did not wait until the age of 50 to build our dream. We love working in a black owned neighborhood that we are helping to revitalize. (Overtown was considered the “Harlem of the South” in the 1940s to 1960s.)
While Copper Door was in full swing – they were sold out for the Miami Ultra Music Festival in March 2020 – the coronavirus forced them to close. But putting the business on hiatus had an advantage: “We slowed down and got to know each other better,” West said. “We synergized and gave each other the attention we needed to help us face challenges with more maturity. “
In April 2020, the couple opened the pop-up Rosie’s restaurant in a food trailer on the side of the bed and breakfast. Four months later, after receiving a $ 25,000 grant from Discover Card that had allocated $ 5 million to help black-owned restaurants, they were able to add additional service for outdoor seating, booths, and dining. landscaping.
They received another grant, this one for $ 10,000, after submitting a video essay to BeyGood Foundation of Beyoncé, which worked with the NAACP to help black-owned businesses during the pandemic. Mr. West and Ms. Ross paid their fortunes by partnering with charities to feed those in need, including World Central Kitchen founded by José Andrés.
“By learning to identify each other’s weaknesses, they’ve nurtured how they feed off each other to survive and thrive in times of need,” said his mother, Rosa Walker.
On May 15, after three years of engagement, the couple married in the garden behind their home in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood. Marva McKenzie, their therapist, who became Minister of Universal Life for the event, officiated in front of 16 guests. At least 100 more attended virtually.
The bride and groom expressed their allegiance to each other in their vows.
“I will work hard to understand your desires and make you happy,” Mr. West said wearing a custom suit from Men’s Designer Outlet.
“Over the past six years you have shown me the meaning of true courage. That’s exactly who you are, ”said Ms Ross, who wore an ivory beaded and embroidered strapless gown by Anne Barge.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds left with their two dogs, Buddy and Ace. The guests cheered and tossed confetti.
“I’m thrilled for them,” said father of the bride Richard Ross. “Akino’s patience, kindness and steadfastness perfectly complement Jamila’s frenetic energy and glow.”
On this day
When May 15, 2021
Or In a tropical garden behind the couple’s house in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood.
Chef selections With a Moroccan dinner theme, Chef Jason Arroyo, a former colleague of the groom, prepared a dazzling array of entrees including Za’taar roast chicken with a hot barley salad, apricots, toasted almonds and olives.
Dessert A two-tiered lemon cake with a layer of elderflower jam and buttercream.
Love notes At each table, the couple left a special message for the guests: “Our journey began with a shared passion for cooking. We find our love together by creating an experience with socialization, work, fire, water and earth. We feel blessed to break bread with you today and we will remember this first meal as a union with you forever. “