‘Tha Ville’ -A Unique Transformation by Young Visionaries
Cedar Grove, Manchester:
It all began when two young men were asked to assist a friend in seeking out a business opportunity. Upon their friend's disinterest in one particular venture, they quickly took the chance, and against questions of their sanity, transformed an old building into
Tha Ville Restaurant and Lounge.
Twenty-four-year-old Donell Marriott and Ryan Redwood, both from St Catherine, met at Northern Caribbean University (NCU), where Redwood obtained an undergraduate degree in guidance and counselling, and Marriott continues to pursue his undergrad studies in computer science. They had never worked together on any project prior, and by association soon found that they each possessed skills that if harnessed, could result in absolute success.
After completing extensive research and gathering the necessary resources, it took them approximately eight months to have the facility up and running.
"At first, when we looked at Mandeville and saw what it was lacking, we wanted a real high-class elite type of restaurant and lounge, but such an investment required about US$200,000, and we were not in a position to get that money, so we decided to downscale for now and offer similar services at a different location," stated Redwood.
He continued: "It was hard work. The building required more renovations than we had anticipated. We fixed the doorknob, only to find that the hinges needed repair as well. We can laugh now, but that time, it was frustrating. We painted, we did several removals and installations, and of course, the initial start-up cost of J$500,000 was surpassed ... . This building has been here from the '60s, and so, to say we aren't pleased about how it looks now would be a lie."
Describing their experience as trial and error for the most part, Marriott says this investment will continue to be nurtured and made to be the best it can be.
"This is our first time operating in this line of business. Everything relating to putting in orders and getting up even 4 a.m to go the market - all those things are new to us, but we have people in our corner, and with each new day, we learn and we adapt to change and move forward."
Describing themselves as hustlers from birth, the young entrepreneurs are seeking to create an empire from past and present experiences.
"I grew up in a single-parent home, as my father died when I was six months old, and as long as I can remember, I have always had a business mind, always finding ways of flipping cash, whether it was selling a new phone or entering a partnership to gain a profit ... . I was fast-thinking, and people appreciated that," revealed Redwood.
Marriott has a similar mindset. "For me, someone who grew up in the country, my parents exposed us (my siblings and I) to different things, so I was never a 'country boy'. I always had big dreams and was always thinking of ways to be independent, and similar to Ryan, I did my little hustling in high school, selling sweets and CDs. I just loved the feeling of holding my own ... . I was glad when I met Ryan, because it was through us meeting that a marketing and promotions company, Hott Boxx, was born, and now the addition of a restaurant and lounge."
With the tagline, Come for the food, stay for the vibe, Tha Ville Restaurant and Lounge has provided employment for several individuals and a chill spot for college students.
"We are strategically located next to NCU, and on Saturdays, we are open until 12 p.m. It's a nice li'l getaway with free Wi-Fi, affordable prices and the opportunity to just take a break," Marriott told Food.
In addition to already hosting a unique Thursday night lyme for students, customers can expect an outdoor grill experience come this summer, as well as delivery services.
"People told us to leave the old building because it's a waste a time, even the persons who occupied the space before us. But you see, when you begin something you're passionate about, you have to see it through. Just start with what you have and build on it. The very people who said no will begin to say yes," asserted Redwood.