A taste of the Caribbean in Keizer 

GW Caribbean BBQ owner and chef, Wilfrid Similien

“I have had pulled pork sandwiches from a lot of different places in my life but this was one of the best I have ever had,” Keizer resident Diana Romero said. 

Located at the Copper Creek Mercantile plaza on River Road, nestled behind the building is GW Caribbean BBQ, a smoked foods truck managed and worked by one-man team and Keizer resident Wilfrid Similien. 

Starting with just a smoker, this man, born in Haiti, is working towards what some have called the American dream. 

L e av i ng Haiti at the age of 17, Similien first moved to Florida where he described living most of his young adult life. 

C o m e 2013, Similien stated he had the opportunity to work for Coca Cola, a job that would move him across the country to Oregon where he ended up in the small, homey city of Keizer by 2014. 

After six years in the soda company, he made the active choice to pursue his true passion, cooking. 

Similien noted his cooking career began while working at Coca-Cola, but due to the strain of constantly cooking only to return back to work he made the choice to move to cooking fulltime in order to reclaim his time back. 

“The paycheck was good, but when you do something for yourself, you don’t have to wait for others,” Similien said. 

Taking just a smoker hauled by his truck, Similien made his way around Oregon, cooking for private parties, businesses and other events in Portland and Newberg. 

After a year or so hauling his smoker, he saved up enough to buy a food truck which, now having a smoker and a truck, prompted him to look for a more stationary place to set up shop. 

Similien described how the first food truck pad he rented was in Newberg, however, after about four years getting through hard times, he was able to save up and purchase the dark red food truck that currently sits towards the back of the River Road plaza. 

GW Caribbean BBQ offers a menu of 27 different options such as pulled pork sandwiches, Mac n Cheese, half sides of chicken, ribs and even a catfish sandwich, alongside a host of sides and refreshments including beer. 

When asked why a food truck, Similien responded, “You have to start somewhere.” 

He continued saying that anyone wanting to sell food to the public must first understand their area, their product and what their relationships are like with customers, noting that maintaining local relationships has been one of his most fruitful business ventures. 

“I have people from everywhere who know and come to me for my food,” Similien said. 

He went on describing how his food and personality keep customers hooked with them driving to him from Portland, Newberg, Eugene and even Seattle. 

For his business future, he stated that upgrading again, perhaps to a restaurant, would be his grandest dream. 

“I want a restaurant where people come and sit, eat good food, drink and watch the football or basketball game. That’s what I am shooting for,” Similien said. 

Considering the numerous food options within Keizer it creates pause as the question: “Why should I eat here,” comes up. 

To this Similien responds that his flavors are delicious but not overly-selective. 

“I am from the Caribbean, but I don’t cook food for people from the Caribbean. I cook for everybody. You don’t have to go to Haiti to get the best.” 

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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