Mon | Nov 19, 2018

Ribbiz third eatery coming to Manor Park

Published:Wednesday | November 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder/Business Reporter
Kamal Bankay, co-owner of Ribbiz Lounge Limited.

Ribbiz Lounge Limited, a causal dining and bar outfit, which operates Ultra Lounge in Barbican, Kingston, has poured $30 million into its second restaurant, which opened last week at the Victoria Pier on the Kingston waterfront.

Kemar Bankay, Don Creary and Brian Chung, who have equal holdings in Ribbiz Limited, are also planning their third location for Manor Park, which Bankay says is likely to be twice the size of the Victoria Pier operation.

That restaurant, called Ocean Lounge, seats 150.

Five years ago, the partners opened Ultra Lounge, offering a bar and nightlife experience in Barbican. According to Bankay, when 18 months ago they secured the space at Victoria Pier, leased from Andrew Azar, they began the redesign of the ocean-front space for their second project - a full-blown restaurant that also offers nightlife entertainment.

It was intended to tap into the opportunities spurred by the redevelopment of downtown Kingston.

"It is a huge redevelopment. A lot of businesses are reinvesting in downtown - from Government to corporate businesses. We figured what would go well with any major commercial district are food and beverage hangout spots," Bankay told the Financial Gleaner.

"We decided that this would be the perfect place, from a business standpoint, to put one of our leisure spaces. Then, we got the opportunity to open on the waterfront, which is ideal."

The restaurant spans 4,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of Victoria Pier. The partners poured $30 million into its set-up and opened for business on November 1.

"It's a significant investment. It's a complete redesign of the inside, putting in structural elements, furniture, lighting, sound systems," Bankay said.

Its offerings include lunch and after-work happy hour, and on Fridays and Saturdays, Ocean Lounge becomes a party zone. The owners are bullish on growing its clientele.

"When there is a cruise-ship operation in the harbour, we would position ourselves to take good advantage of it. For now, there is none. We expect diners from downtown, the commercial district, from Portmore, and from uptown," he said.

 

Profitable business

 

The first lounge in Barbican began operating in 2013. The third in Manor Park is scheduled to open next year. The design of that restaurant is ongoing, but it will be bigger and require more investment than location number two, Bankay said, adding that Ribbiz is a profitable business and that Ocean Lounge was fully financed from internal resources.

"It was based on five years in the business together that we decided to expand. We will be building out the third location right below Manor Park in 2019," he said.

Bankay said break-even was reached on Ultra Lounge three years into its operation, and he is projecting a similar timeline for profitability for Ocean Lounge. In a market where eateries have a high failure rate, Ribbiz's success, he added, rested on the time invested in it by its owners.

"One of the biggest mistakes I see owners making is that they are absentee owners. We are at the business every day as owners and co-directors. We split our time, all three of us, between the different locations, making sure that the product is to the highest standard," Bankay said.

The restaurant company employs a staff of 80.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com