It might not be officially open yet for dining, but the newest restaurant on the South Coast welcomed its first customers to the bar today, and has already received kudos from several on its decor.
Pureocean, the new restaurant of Divi Southwinds in St Lawrence Gap, Christ Church, represents a more than $1 million investment for Barbados, with only one other restaurant of the same brand in the Caribbean –– in Aruba.
General manager of Divi Southwinds, Alvin Jemmott, told Barbados TODAY this morning, as the first two customers patronized the bar, that it was hoped eventually there would be more Pureoceans across the region.
“You’ve always heard that visitors come to Barbados for the sun, sea and sand; but I believe that this is an absolute portrayal of why people come to the Caribbean. They come for the sand, the sea and the sun, but we’ve added some new innovations here; and what one can come to expect in the future of the culinary outpouring will be able to match with any international fare,” the hotelier promised of his spanking new gem.
He said the only hold-up to actually opening up the restaurant now was the Barbados Light & Power, and getting the correct voltage sorted out by the electricity company. There was thousands of dollars in equipment, he noted, that they just could not risk using on the temporary supply they now have feeding the area and running the bar.
He stressed that there was a deliberate attempt by the new entity to concentrate on local fare.
Executive chef Henderson Butcher said he was also excited to get the food out and onto the tables for patrons as well, adding that he had always wanted to work with Jemmott at Divi Southwinds. So when the opportunity arose, he jumped at it.
“Pureocean, when it was explained, was right up my alley. It was all the stuff I wanted to do, all the stuff I love to do, the direction I was going in for years. It was handed to me on a platter with turnkey: new restaurant, spanking new facilities, the opportunity to get the staff and be happy in training and working with people you are comfortable with, getting the results you really want and being able to share with the wider world and Barbados, doing cuisine that encompasses Barbadian flavours with the flair of the international market –– that is exciting,” he said.
Pureocean had also started its own organic herb garden as well, said Butcher, and the hotel would be looking to work directly with the farmers to make sure the restaurant had the quantity and quality of produce needed.
He was adamant Pureocean would be supporting local wherever possible, but it would call for a partnership between the restaurant and the farms to make sure everything was up to standard.
“The farmers will basically need to make sure their supply fits the demand that we would have and the quality of produce that they have will be very important. The disappointment with our farmers is that people were trying just to grab at bringing in more money than the others, but the farmers need to realize that everybody can’t have tomatoes; everybody can’t have carrots; you have to spread it around so everybody will make money, and there will be times in the year when the crops need to be changed . . . .
“Farmers need to get that part of their stuff worked out, but when it comes to what we want from them, it’s quality and the timelines fitting the demand we have. We will make sure we take care of them. So we will be cutting out the middle man and dealing with the farmers. We want to be going out to the farmers and doing some tours of the properties, seeing the produce, even the pig farming; we want to see everything. Then we can know where our product is coming from and put on our menu these animals are fed a particular way and so on,” he said.
The kitchen staff will be a mixture of young talent and experienced older hands, including Barbados’ junior duelling champion and former member of the national culinary team, Stephanie Sayers.
Jemmott said the restaurant was a combination of mostly local labour, with a distinctly Caribbean design from Guyana greenheart wood. The walkway is lined with torches that will be lit at night, and the canopy over the open air bar is blue to let in the daylight, while keeping out the heat of the sun, with blue lighted ambience at night.
He expressed sincere appreciation for all the staff and other individuals who had worked behind the scenes to get the restaurant to this point, as well as those still working to push it further.
While there several guests approached both Jemmott and Butcher offering congratulations on the progress of the restaurant, with a number of them pausing to buy drinks and chill in the early afternoon.