By Sheria Brathwaite
From a young age, Ronald Thompson knew he wanted to be his own boss.
Taking inspiration from his late father McDonald Herby Goodridge, who ran a successful shop in Marhill Street, The City, for several years, Thompson decided to open his own establishment called RT Snack Bar.
As a little boy, he assisted his father dispatching customers with drinks and a variety of cutters and he quickly realised that the way you treat people was important and the way how one interacted with customers kept them coming back.
So he adopted those tenets and carried on his father’s legacy. However, Thompson wanted to elevate the food selections at his business and offer more refined cuisine with a Bajan twist.
Thompson said his menu could reflect that of any fancy restaurant on the West or South Coast of the island but was “easy on the pockets”.
In fact, he said he built a relationship with local farmers which has allowed him to use a lot of fresh vegetables and herbs in his dishes.
One of his hits is Alfredo pasta and Greek salad. Without giving away too many secrets, he said he used different types of cheeses, which, coupled with the fresh vegetables and herbs, give the meal an extra “kick”.
He admits that he loves being in the kitchen.
“It is a God-given talent and I never went anywhere to learn. Right now I am still the reigning king of the grill from the ManUp Challenge. I have been holding that title for the past four years.”
It is also quite common to see well-known people patronising the business at Bibby’s Lane, St Michael. It may not be an area best known for the comfort food but there is a lot of foot traffic at Thompson’s establishment.
The 60-year-old always finds creative ways to remain relevant and attract crowds to his bar.
During the summer period, he capitalises on the Crop Over festival atmosphere by inviting a number of entertainers such as Stiffy and Lady Essence and disc jockeys such as Surf Rat and Rico Love as part of the line-up at the bar. He also hosts karaoke sessions which have attracted a big following.
“I just think about doing things a bit different altogether and we are in a community that is not like the West Coast or South Coast so you have to do things to bring the community together,” he said.
For the past seven years, Thompson has been running the bar with his business partner Troy King and though he had made a name for himself, he said he had to work “really hard” to achieve success.
He said he always had an entrepreneurial spirit and he liked the idea of owning his own shop, where he would be in the kitchen preparing meals and bringing a smile to a customer’s face from the first bite.
Thompson saved his earnings from selling household items from a van and in 2008 he opened the enterprise. Initially, he sold foodstuff, like the traditional village shop, then he transformed it into a bar and then added an eatery.
The past four years have been a rollercoaster ride for him, given the economic challenges associated with the
He said he was taken aback when he had to close his business for several months because of Government-imposed restrictions including the curfew.
“We had to implement a lot of cost-cutting measures and then we had to shut down. This really dug into our finances but we rallied through and tried to fight. Since then we are doing pretty okay, trying to do things differently, like catering, and getting back out there.”
Added to that, he said the high cost of living presented another challenge as the price for stock had risen.
However, he said, he is still able to keep things afloat and thanked his loyal customers who have supported him.
Thompson added that even though things may be hard he has worked with his customers to ensure they get exactly what they want when they enter the bar.
“We are trying to work with customers. If a customer comes in and we have a dish for $20 and they only have $16, we work with the customer because we try to keep everybody happy.
“It has been working for us because each customer would share their experience by word of mouth and more people come. It’s a give and take and sometimes you have to lose to gain.”