Tobago restaurant owner’s spirits lifted ahead of Nov 1

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Waitress Shanelle Moore serves the Harris family lunch at Fairways Restaurant at Plantation, Lowlands, on Sunday. – David Reid

The announcement that restaurants and bars can resume full service to vaccinated customers from November 1 has lifted the spirits of business owners in Tobago.

The entertainment sector was allowed to reopen as safe zones on October 11 for the vaccinated population, but restaurants and bars were prohibited from selling alcohol.

But on Saturday, the Prime Minister revised his position, much to the delight of stakeholders.

The news has come as a huge relief to one restaurant owner who anticipates an increase in reservations.

Stacia Lindsay, owner of Fairways Restaurant, told Newsday she was elated to hear the update.

“It will mean more business activity because a lot of my customers ask for alcohol,” she said.

Lindsay said cocktails are a big part of their service and the bartender will be called into action to whip up creations.

“We do cocktails and wines. We used to improvise and do non-alcoholic cocktails, but we can add the alcohol now.”

Asked how business was for the weekend, Lindsay said things had picked up considerably.

“The weekend was very nice,” she said.

On the process for reserving a table, Lindsay outlined the procedure.

“You make your reservation, we then ask if you are fully vaccinated. We ask what you would like to have, so there won’t be a long wait for your meal. On entry you are told to present your vaccination card and ID card.

“A lot of persons say they don’t have their card but they have a picture, but we don’t accept that.”

Lindsay noted though that they have started a database of their customers to note the vaccination status of loyal customers.

She added that the curbside pick-up is still ongoing for unvaccinated customers but she hopes people get vaccinated to enjoy the safe zones.

“The dining experience is so much better.”

Tobago Business Chamber president Martin George was pleased but believes it’s a long road to recovery.

“It’s too early to expect an uptick in business given he (Dr Rowley) has set a timeline of November 1. Even with the limited reopening that has begun, things are still extremely slow in bars and restaurants. It will take a while to recover and we anticipate that this move from November 1 will give a boost, but I don’t see the recovery kicking in until the year 2022. It’s going to be a long road to recovery.”

George believes the closure of beaches is another hindrance.

“That’s a big part of problem. It’s difficult to entice Trinis to come to Tobago when beaches are closed, we still under Soe (state of emergency), still under curfew, can’t have glass of wine with the meal – it’s discouraging for the average visitors.

“Only when you have a broader reopening that you will have people flocking back to Tobago.

“In Tobago, the dining-out crowd mainly comprises Trinis or foreigners. Dining out is not something that you can rely solely on the Tobago population.”