It’s the most beautiful place in the world. Try convincing anyone born and raised in the community of Marigot otherwise. Marigot is known almost primarily for its touristic lure, but anyone who’s ever sailed through the bay or explored its lesser-known terrain knows its magnetism isn’t limited to first-time visitors.
The community on Saint Lucia’s west coast is gaining popularity for new reasons this year – ambitious young people are taking charge and ownership of business models, and creating their own. Two such rising stars are none other than Hassan Rambally, owner of Hassy’s, a premium bar serving beers, wine and cocktails, and Arlene De Beauville, proprietor of Cara’s Kitchen, a roadside restaurant specializing in local and fast food options. The STAR spoke first with 25-year-old Arlene who, promptly after our interview, recommended that we reach out to Hassan, the 21-year-old who now operates from the home of the establishment previously known as Rainforest Hideaway.
Before we could meet Hassan, however, Arlene shared with us what her business was about, and spoke further about the source of her inspiration.
What’s special about the name ‘Cara’s Kitchen’?
Arlene: With Cara being my middle name, I thought to myself this would be my kitchen away from home, so I just put the two together and created the name. Cara’s Kitchen opened its doors to the public on June 1st, 2017. We’re located in the heart of Marigot. At Cara’s we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner – we cater for all!
What inspired you to open up this new venture?
Arlene: Growing up as a child I’d always been curious and watched my grandmother who is now deceased baking cakes and pastries to sell. She had her own stall by the roadside selling her stuff, and she had never worked for anyone. This was how she provided for her seven children, and was able to send them to school. My mother, on the other hand, has worked in the hotel industry in Saint Lucia for over 25 years as a cook and also a supervisor. I believe this runs in my family bloodline, and this was my calling.
Is this something you always imagined you would do?
Arlene: Yes. I have always known this was what I wanted but I had no way of knowing I would be able to accomplish it at such a young age. The passion I have for food, and actually preparing it . . . words can’t even explain.
How long did the planning stages last?
Arlene: Planning took a couple of months. Before we could really open and operate there were certain requirements we had to meet in order to be approved by the Ministry of Environmental Health.
Has your community been supportive?
Arlene: People in the community have definitely been supportive, but support comes from all over, whether it be persons driving by or followers on my Facebook page, family and friends. When it comes to support, I have to thank my partner, Barry. We worked together, and I think that’s important. I had the vision, and he was always by my side.
What’s it like operating a business of this nature in Marigot?
Arlene: All I can say is that survival, determination and faith is what I go by on a daily basis. I have learned that with owning a business, nothing comes easy. There are good days and there are not so good days. There’s a lot of competition in Marigot. There are hotels and other restaurants which are not far from each other, but at the end of the day everyone just wants to make a living.
What are some of your available items?
Arlene: Fruit bowls, salad bowls, chicken, beef and fish burgers, chicken rotis, hotdogs, lasagne, smoothies, local juices . . . there’s something for everybody at Cara’s Kitchen!
For more information check out Cara’s Kitchen on Facebook!
Nestled between mangroves, you’ll find Hassy’s. The Marigot locale opened on July 28th, 2017 with an aim, according to owner Hassan Rambally, to “deliver great drinks and great service to our customers”. Hassan worked at the Chateau Hurricane Hole bar, part of the Chateau Mygo restaurant, for almost three years before branching off and opening his own business. There he’d spend quite a lot of time going to great lengths to ensure customers enjoyed their visits, and one month into his new venture, his vibrancy and zeal has translated quite effortlessly.
How did you come around to managing your own bar?
Hassan: I always wanted to open my own business, not necessarily a bar. People who knew me would always tell me if I ever got the opportunity that I should open my own bar. I kept those words close to my heart and always aspired to have my own. In April Rainforest Hideaway shut down and made the announcement that they were to remain closed due to circumstances beyond their control. Not long after, the son of the owner of Rainforest paid a visit to the bar where I worked then. He was one of our regulars. We spoke about the restaurant, and why it had closed down. This conversation lasted for approximately an hour. I asked him what the plan was for the space. Eventually, they agreed to lease me the property, and I quit my job. I’ve since been embarked on my new adventure.
How long did it take you to plan?
Hassan: This was done spontaneously. After the owners gave me the okay and the terms and conditions were made clear, it took about seven weeks of planning, two weeks of preparation and then on 28th July we started off! From the time the word got out, I started getting calls, messages and the occasional visit from members of the community. On days when we were setting up lights or cleaning, people would stop by just to see the progress. Some came offering help and others came looking for job opportunities. After opening, lots of community folk have showed their support by coming and patronizing the business.
Have you faced any challenges?
Hassan: Operating a business like this in Marigot can be challenging. The competition is very stiff. Tourism is also a seasonal industry, and at times like now – June to October – the season is closed and there is little to no one around. However, due to the beauty of Marigot Bay, when the tourist season picks up again it’s a fulfilled area with lots of people. This gives us the opportunity to make money and prepare ourselves for the slow season again.
What’s the next step for you?
Hassan: Ensuring I bring my business to the level that I want it to be. One of my short-term goals is to open a small kitchenette area where
I can serve simple finger foods and bar snacks to my customers. After all, alcohol does stir up a bit of an appetite. Another goal of mine is to be number one in the Marigot Bay area on TripAdvisor. I may also want to invest in another business at a different location.
We’re sold. What time is Happy Hour?
Hassan: We have a happy hour from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. every night, and our after-work lime which gives everyone who comes to the bar in work attire the luxury of enjoying cocktails at 2 for 1. However, you must come in work attire to enjoy this special.