Natomas Grocer Specializes in Caribbean Foods

Big Upps is packed with Jamaican and Caribbean products. / Photo

FOR THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

The family-owned Big Upps grocery store in Natomas treats customers with hospitality while offering an array of Jamaican and Caribbean spices and foods.

Big Upps carries a variety of Caribbean spices, sauces and more. / Photo

“My favorite part is to getting to know the customers,” Big Upps co-owner Bazil Lloyd said of the store.

Big Upps gets its name from the positive Jamaican phrase, “big up” which means to give praise to someone or something.

The 1,042 square-foot grocer opened on April 28, 2019, and has “everything from the Caribbean,” according to Bazil Lloyd.

The store has an entire wall dedicated to spices. All of Big Upps’s ingredients are imported from the Dominican Republic, Ghana and other Caribbean countries to ensure authenticity.

“Only place around I was able to find scotch bonnet peppers,” wrote Adam Sheddy on a Google review.

Bazil Lloyd previously worked as a real estate agent. He decided to open the store when he saw a growing community of people from “the islands” moving to Northern California. He wanted to encourage people from the Caribbean to keep coming and build a sense of community.

Beef, chicken and vegetable patties are the only ready-to-eat food sold at Big Upps. / Photo

Some customers travel long distances — from the San Francisco Bay Area and Rocklin, for example —to Big Upps for its beef patties and rare spices.

“I drive here all the way from Reno just to grab some beef patties,” wrote Kamal Cox on a Google review. “Best beef patties I’ve had anywhere.”

Queen Qove wrote in a review, “I come from Brentwood for all my needs.”

Employee Life Lloyd explained the handheld patties — which are available in beef, chicken or vegetable — are a “Jamaican classic” and also the only ready-to-eat food the store sells. He also added that when Big Upps restocks certain items, they often sell out again quickly, sometimes not lasting “longer than two days.”

“Jerk sauce, jerk marinade, and beef patties” are all the most popular items at Big Upps, according to Bazil Lloyd. The store also sells plantains, beef, Caribbean snacks, and sweets such as tamarind balls.

Big Upps is a place for community as much as it is a place for authentic Jamaican and Caribbean ingredients. Customers can be seen standing at the cash register counter enjoying Jamaican cream sodas while they chat and joke with other customers and the owners.

Big Upps is located in the Arena Corporate Center at 4301 Truxel Road in unit D-6. The store open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Photo by Christopher Loupeda

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