Eight and a half months after her world was turned upside-down when her nine-year-old business was forcibly taken away, Trisha Hinds is still in disbelief and is hoping for closure.
At the end of August last year bailiffs took possession of the popular Marina Bar and Restaurant in The City, putting an end to an operation that attracted as many as 300 customers per day.
In an update on Thursday, an anxious but composed Hinds told Barbados TODAY she was informed last month through her lawyer that owner of the Bridge House, Cavans Lane, Bridgetown building Miss Daisy Investment Inc., had asked that she remove her possessions from the location.
Moreover, Hinds said she was only given a week to do so.
However, she said she would now need to jump through a lot of hoops including renting or purchasing a container/s to store her hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory and hiring a technical team to dismantle several pieces of equipment including a speciality vent, CCTV system and solar panels.
“They wrote to me three weeks ago and said that they had attempted to put all my stuff in storage but the cost was exorbitant. If the cost was exorbitant for them who are still collecting rent from people imagine what it is for me that don’t have work. You stopped me from earning because you are holding all my assets. How am I supposed to get the stuff out of there,” she said.
“I tried many months ago and I have to get a 40-foot container. Then I have to go to the Ministry of Transport to ask permission to park the container for X number of days. They want me to clear the building in one week after nine years and no staff. Everything in the building belongs to me and the only thing that belongs to them are the ceiling and the floor,” she said.
On August 28 last year, a notice was served for Marina Bar and Restaurant to immediately vacate the premises, owned by Miss Daisy Investment Inc., citing an outstanding payment of $10,185, which was owed for one month’s rent and water bill.
The landlord informed the tenant that they would therefore be seizing the building and its inventory and threatened to sell the contents if the amount was not paid within 10 days.
Hinds, who dreamt of owning the restaurant many years before she actually did, said when the ordeal took place last year she felt as though “the ground has been ripped from underneath me”. She said she offered to pay the sum but it was not accepted.
To have gone from catering to as many as 78,000 customers during the vibrant cruise ship season from October to April to not having her lifelong dream of owning her own business has caused Hinds a lot of stress over the past few months.
“It’s been very stressful. I am on medication that I thought I would never be taking . . . it’s been awful. We almost lost our vehicle and we haven’t been able to pay our bills,” she said, adding that her husband was taking it even worse than she was.
“The man is distraught. He is really distraught,” she said.
“It upset me at first. I was really bad. I had nervous problems. I was getting panic attacks and I had to go to the doctor because of them . . . I even became very claustrophobic but I learned how to control it. But we are barely making it,” she said.
Hinds said she used to work seven days per week almost every year for the nine years, except for the odd occasions when she needed to spend a day with a visiting family member.
In June 2019 the business owners at the Cavans Lane building were told that the building had been sold to make way for a major development there. However, at the time, they were not told when they would have to vacate.
Some businesses are still occupying some of the shop spaces.
Hinds told Barbados TODAY she was worried that some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory she had would go missing, given that she was unable to check on them and since the notice placed on the door by the owner did not include all of what she knew was in the building.
What is more, the businesswoman said she has not been able to meet any of her tax obligations since the closure in August simply because she had no access to even the computer that stored all the necessary accounting information.
“Since August 28 I have been asking for my computer. There was even money in the cash register. I don’t know if that money is still there,” she said.
“I had to write to the Barbados Revenue Authority and let them know I have no access, but you are going to fine me penalties and interest. Who is going to pay that?” she said.
In addition, she said of the 42 staff members that were displaced, about 11 of them are yet to receive their full severance payments.
Asked what would likely be her next move, Hinds said she was simply hoping to raise enough money to be able to “get this behind me”.
Issuing a message to landlords, Hinds advised “you need to sit down and talk with your tenants. You need to have that understanding on what is going on”.
“And I would say to tenants be careful of the lease that you sign,” she added.
Hinds, who will be approaching retirement in another few years, said if she had the opportunity to start a new business it would definitely not be in Barbados.