ROANOKE, Va. – The owners of a Roanoke restaurant are still pinching themselves to see if this is real life after a chance encounter took them on a wild ride. Caribbica Soul in Roanoke's City Market Building is now on a first-name basis with a country music superstar.
When musical acts are on the road, hotel food and delivery can get boring, so many times, they'll get out and explore the local culinary scene. But generally when that happens, the experience ends when the people sign the check and leave. Not this time in Roanoke, however, as a friendship has literally been formed on the back of jerk chicken.
In downtown Roanoke, if the flavors of the Caribbean are what you crave, Arton Williams is the man you seek.
"It's home grown cooking, we're home grown people, we're representing Virginia so we've got to represent it to the fullest," Williams said.
He owns Caribbica Soul with his family, and two weekends ago, he was serving up jerk chicken when some men walked by. They decided to eat there, loved the food and told Williams they were backup musicians in town for a show.
Williams, completely unaware of who they were, said he'd been wanting to book a musical act and thought maybe these men and their main act would be interested.
"So I offer them $500 to come and perform for me, and they all started laughing, and he said, 'They said $500? This artist just turned down $100,000,'" he recalled. "I said, 'Well who is the artist?'"
They told Williams they were with Kacey Musgraves, in town to headline at FloydFest that next day. Williams went from having no idea who they were talking about to being on the 2019 Grammy album of the year winner's tour bus in less than 24 hours.
"It was surreal in a sense, but she made us feel calm," Williams said.
Musgraves' band had liked Williams' food and enjoyed meeting him so much that they arranged for Williams and his family to come be VIPs at Musgraves' performance. They were given backstage passes and told to bring more of the jerk chicken along for Musgraves to try, and the band wanted Musgraves to meet the whole Williams family.
After the performance was over, Musgraves and her band invited the Williams family to join them on their tour bus and spend time with them, eating Williams' now-famous jerk chicken. Williams said Musgraves stayed with them for more than an hour and that she could not have been more humble, asking him and his family nonstop questions about their life, love and story.
"She was down-to-earth, open-minded, and you know, in a time like what we're going through right now, we need more people like her to show love," Williams said. "All she did was show us a lot of love. We were in that bus, and it was all about love."
Even after spending all that time with the music star, the Williams family was still unaware of just how big of a performer she was. Williams' daughter, Artisha Williams, started searching more about her online when they realized just how big she was.
"I got home and Googled her, saw all her accolades and was like wow, this is a huge deal," Artisha Williams said.
Caribbica Soul also became a huge deal when Musgraves posted on her Instagram story to her 1.5 million followers a video of the food and the restaurant's menu, stating that it was the best jerk chicken she has ever had. Now Williams said he can barely keep up with all the demand and that people keep coming into the store saying Musgraves sent them.
"It's because of her endorsement of the jerk chicken, and she loved the macaroni and cheese and the sweet daddy iced tea, too," Williams said.
It's a story they'll never forget with new friends they never thought they'd have. And the story doesn't end there. Williams said Musgraves and her band talked about his family joining them in Nashville when she wraps her nationwide tour, catering food for a crowd of 800 people and partying with the country music icon.