Pina & Coconut offers tasty ‘Tingz’ from the Caribbean

Dudley and Shevonie Allen sit inside the dining area of Pina & Coconut in Warsaw, which opened recently. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the store’s street location.

By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW Dudley Allen and his wife, Shevonie (pronounced Sha-ven-a), have re-entered the Warsaw restaurant scene with a new eatery on South Buffalo Street.

Pina & Coconut opened recently and hosted a ribbon cutting Wednesday with Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the arrival of a new Caribbean menu to the community.

The Allens’ restaurant background goes back more than a dozen years in Warsaw, and Dudley said they’re already seeing a return of some longtime customers to the new business.

Pina & Coconut can be found in the 800 block of South Buffalo behind a tobacco store (near the curve) — just blocks from the downtown where they once operated two restaurants including the Corner Street Grill some nine years ago.

Aside from being more in control of all aspects of the business this time, they’re relying on the broad flavors found in Nicaragua where they were both born.

The Central American country stretches from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and is a cross-cultural magnet for different delicacies.

Fused together, they feel confident that Dudley has perfected a collection of dishes that are unique and appealing.

“There are a lot of influences in our dishes from around the world, but because we are from the island, we make it our own,” Shevonie said.

It is essentially a corridor of great cuisine, she confided.

A top-down view of Drunken Chicken, which is topped off with large strawberries. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.

Dudley grew up with a passion for food passed on from his mother and has turned that into a menu full of flavorful meals accented with a blend of sauces that rely heavily (but quietly) on pineapple and coconut.

After three decades of an ongoing focus on food, he’s keen on what makes a great meal.

“They come with flavor, taste, presentation, quantity and quality,” he said. “That is what I do.”

The menu is playful and categorizes items with a Jamaican flare with headings like “Hand Tingz” for small items and sandwiches, and Heavy Tingz for full dinners.

Many of the meals feature chicken or steak or fish.

Dudley said some of his favorite dishes include Drunk Chicken, which comes with cooked cassava and cooked banana, and Nica Fish, a seasoned whole red snapper that is deep fried.

Dudley enjoys interacting with customers so much that he installed a window between the kitchen and the dining room that allows him to interact with guests. On one occasion, he was seen handing out samples through the window to nearby customers.

“I try to reach the people one-on-one. I want them to understand that I’m a people person,” he said. “I love people.”

He said he thinks his reputation and approach to life work in his favor.

“We are just honest, hard-working people that want the opportunity and the dream of America,” Dudley said. “My wife and I — we are proud of that.”

“I’ve grown old here,” he adds, with a smile.

Pina & Coconut is open Monday through Friday, and the owners said they plan to consider expanding to include weekend hours at a later point.

Family and friends celebrate the official opening of Pina & Coconut Wednesday in Warsaw. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.