Sazón De Massachusetts: Yely’s Restaurant

JAMAICA PLAIN—It was a busy day in Yely’s Restaurant. The lunch rush had just started and the long line of customers was growing fast. 

Customers shook off the rain from their umbrellas and peered over the foggy glass, lifting a finger to point at the food selection available that day.

Edwin Anderson Medina, the 45-year-old owner, worked the register, moving seamlessly around his coworkers as he collected payment from customers. 

Despite the long line, Medina paused to greet and shake hands with longtime patrons and friends. 

“Getting a taste of our food no matter who you are or where you’re from is the most important thing for me,” said Medina in an interview after the lunch rush.

Yely’s Coffee Shop—a Dominican eatery commonly known as Yely’s Restaurant—is a staple in Jamaica Plain, offering home-cooked Dominican food and an authentic feel of the homeland. 

The kitchen prepares food from its 6 a.m. opening to its 9 p.m. closing. Located one block from the Jackson Square station on the Orange Line, the restaurant is a huge draw for commuters.

The family-owned restaurant first opened in 1995 by Medina’s father, Juan, who specialized in street-style Dominican cuisine, known as fritura

Due to its popularity, Yely’s has expanded with another restaurant in Dorchester, where about 24 percent of the Dominican population in the Greater Boston area lives, according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Medina, originally from Bani, Dominican Republic, came to the United States in 1989 and grew to love cooking and running a restaurant as he worked alongside his father. 

“It was the profession I enjoyed the most,” he said. “Being taught by my father and my family growing up definitely influenced it.” 

Medina is running the Dorchester location while his father remains the owner of the original Jamaica Plain location. The food and prices remain the same.

“Being able to grow the business has always been something I’ve wanted to do since we started,’’ Medina shared. “Now that I’ve expanded it feels amazing being able to show others my culture.”

Medina said the restaurant has become a large part of his life—he hopes it will continue and grow with the next generation of his family.  

“I’d love to see more Yely’s pop up around the city so everyone can enjoy,” he said. 

Medina smiled warmly at his customers as he rang them up during the lunch rush. When he saw someone he knew, he moved from behind the counter to greet them. It’s the kind of service his customers expect, he said.  

“This is a legacy for me,” he said. “I see this and I know that my children [and] grandchildren … have this to keep going.” 

This story was published as part of a collaboration between MA Latino News and Boston University’s Department of Journalism in the College of Communication. The student journalist is a member of a Reporting in Depth class taught by former Boston Globe reporter Meghan Irons.

Esmeralda Moran is a sophomore studying Journalism at Boston University. She is a first-generation Dominican-American and the first in her family to attend a university. She aspires to spread her love for writing through pursuing magazine writing. 

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