ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Driving by Ti Bamboo Caribbean Restaurant and Lounge, it's impossible to miss a 20 foot tall by 10 foot wide smiling mural of Bob Marley.
The restaurant owner commissioned a local St. Pete artist and muralist to paint the portrait of the man she says inspired her and so many others.
"The Bob Marley is very important to me because on Sundays I used to watch him play football, and he would give me ice cream," Lloy Bryant, the owner of Ti Bamboo Caribbean Restaurant and Lounge, told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska. "I would sit on the bench we would talk, and I just enjoy watching him moving around playing soccer."
Bryant spent her entire life helping others through medicine, working as a registered nurse. Now, she still works as a nurse but decided to follow her lifelong dream of opening a restaurant and sharing Jamaican cuisine with the world.
"I'm always watching my mom in the kitchen, so she's a good cook, so I got that from her. Just by growing up watching my mom cook, that's how I really know how to cook," Bryant said. "So, I'm always going into the kitchen watching her what she put in this what she put in that. And, on Sundays, she's always doing a favorite thing like three dishes oxtail, fish, and something curry."
Native artist and muralist Derek Donnelly said he jumped at the chance to paint the Bob Marley. However, he says it took more than 40-hours to complete over a week.
"It's the epitome of the St. Pete spirit, I believe," Donnelly said. "We really wanted to exemplify the love and the diversity and the stuff in St. Pete here, and what better face to do that than one of the best human advocates and humanitarians of all time."
Donnelly said it's one of the largest murals he's ever painted. His work is showcased across St. Pete and on his Instagram page SaintPaint. He hopes his work inspires others to stop and eat at Bryant's restaurant.
"She's a dream chaser, she caught it, and she's living it and doing great things in the community with this awesome unique restaurant," Donnelly said. "And, we couldn't be happier as a community alone, let alone artists hired to do it."
So far, the portrait is working. Eli Blyden told us it immediately caught his eye and offered his services to Bryant for free.
"I was just driving by here dropping off my son at school. I saw the Bob Marley masterpiece and decided to stop," Blyden said. "The owner came by, Lloy, she greeted me told me it wasn't open yet and I said, 'hey, how can I help' and she said 'I need the menu.' So, I made the menu for her, the logo whatever she asks. I just felt the energy, this spirit in this place."
Bryant said her parents left a legacy of giving back and doing the right thing.
"I'm following my mom and dad cause that's all they do all their life helping people no matter what you do; it says life is a mirror. It reflects on what you do," Bryant said. "If you face it smiling, it smiles right back at you, so that's my motto, and that's what I go by."
Ti Bamboo at 9291 Dr. M.L.K. Jr St N, St. Petersburg is open seven days a week.