by Emmanuel Joseph
To the casual observer, that stretch of Paynes Bay along the bustling West Coast may appear to have been a centre of business for “donkeys years”.
But, if one did not live in the area, it may come as a surprise to know, that what is now a potpourri of small enterprises dotting that section of Highway One, were mostly private residences within the last decade to 15 years, explained middle aged Michael Sandiford, who has lived in the district all his life.
From one end of Paynes Bay, coming from the direction of the City, to the other end, property owners have either converted their homes into varied types of businesses or sold or leased them for such purposes.
Even the former home of the brother of the late Prime Minister and National Hero Errol Barrow, located at the bottom of Holders Hill, is now the Roti Den.
Sandiford, a cook at Treasure Beach Hotel, told Barbados TODAY that there used to be a small rum shop next to the Barrow house, but only early last year, the house was converted into the Roti Hut and the operations of the rum shop were moved to the former private residence.
Over the last decade and a half people who lived in those mostly wooden houses went the way of developing some type of business in order to “make a dollar” by largely capitalising on the heavy tourist traffic that is a feature of the West Coast.
For example, homes in that community are now restaurants, doctor’s office, a mechanic and auto body shop, a place for computer classes and even the noted apparel designer Nefatari Caddle, works from her private dwelling.
Change of ownership
One of the more challenging aspects of this business culture, is the frequent change of ownership.
Residents say it is difficult to keep abreast with who owns what.
“Where the ice cream parlour was, is now Karibu, a restaurant. Karibu only opened about two years ago. Next to that is Scarlet restaurant, where you enter from the back. It’s membership only,” pointed out jet ski operator Stephenson Taitt.
Some Paynes Bay residents also told this newspaper that a number of the private homes became businesses, after being bought by persons who were walking past and saw the properties abandoned.
One of those residents, who did not want to be named, explained that the homes were abandoned in cases where the elderly owners died and their children, particularly those living overseas, were not interested in occupying them.
A Chinese restaurant has also taken up residence in a building where people once lived, Sandiford informed this paper. He said the owner of that home, a Herbert Lowe, who also operated a popular village shop attached to his residence, passed away.
A team from Barbados TODAY was also told by the long-time resident, that Mr Vic, another restaurant, was once the home of former deputy principal at Coleridge and Parry School, Rupert Innis, who died years ago.
Sandiford recalled, too, that a swamp once existed where multi-million dollar apartments now stand on the sea side, a stones throw away from the Paynes Bay Fish Market.
“Holders Hill boys used to come down to get fish from the swamp,” he reminisced.
“There have been a lot of changes ’bout here.”
“People have to make a living and it seem as if business good, otherwise these businesses would not still be around; people wouldn’t be buying them over,” suggested a female resident who wanted to remain anonymous.
That same woman also advised Barbadians who owned property, especially on the West Coast, to hold on to it because rich persons would buy it over and make a mint from it. She also observed that land was now scarce and expensive and very difficult for poor people to acquire.