Fort Clarence original food concessionaires happy with arrangements
The Fort Clarence Beach Park has had national acclaim for its seafood dishes provided by three concession stands operated by Hellshire and Portmore residents, and under the new Guardsman Hospitality regime, all three remain.
Many people had expressed misgivings that the trio would be given the boot, but on the contrary, following the acquisition, they were invited to formalise their status with the new operators, so they could continue to, unhindered, provide seafood dishes such as steamed fish, butter garlic lobster; curried shrimp, escoveitched fish and bammy to visitors.
Portmore resident Nicole Reid-Samuels has been operating the Tianna’s eatery at the facility for 14 years, long before Guardsman Hospitality won the bid to acquire the property from the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in 2018. For her, business is on a positive trajectory.
“Things have been real good. When I heard that Guardsman was going to take it over, I always said to myself that if there should be a takeover, I will be here still because God put me on this property … I had strong faith that I would be back here,” she told Hospitality Jamaica.
“When we met with the management, they said they would be giving us first preference as we were here first. I was happy with what they said, because then and there we knew that they were looking out for us,” she explained.
Due to the facility being closed to the public on weekdays to facilitate renovation and construction, Reid-Samuels and her colleagues come in only on weekends to sell, from temporary mobile food units. Upon full restoration, all three of them are guaranteed one of the kiosks that will be built.
RECORD NUMBER OF TOURISTS
Reid-Samuels said she has already started to see the rewards of the Guardsman takeover, particularly on the day neighbouring Port Royal welcomed its first cruise ship, which resulted in an inflow of more than 100 tourists to Fort Clarence, a record for the facility.
“I jerked chicken and festival for them, as they didn’t want fish,” she said. “Thanks to Guardsman Hospitality; they have been great and I really appreciate what they have been doing for Fort Clarence Beach, because customers (are) coming in and they’re loving it. The beach is clean. I love everything about it; so thumbs up for Guardsman,” she said elatedly.
For Natoya Brooks, co-operator of Jackie and Steven’s Fish Hut, she is still amazed at the transformation of the 50-acre property where her mother began selling seafood some 15 years ago.
“It is looking great. It has improved a lot and I think it is a very great idea. It’s very nice now, and a lot of people are talking about it and can’t wait to see it finish as well; so I think it is under better management right now, to be honest. I did not even know it could look like this, honestly. Now you don’t even have the seaweed on the beach, and they try their best to clean it and everything,” she said.
“We are all really happy and we all know that work is not easy to get, and business to find a place, so it is a blessing same way for us to be able to remain here. We are doing a lot of business now and it’s not finished, so whenever it is finished a lot of people are going to want to see. Remember, this is the number-one beach now in Portmore and Kingston overall, because a lot of people don’t like going to Hellshire (beach) because of the harassment. So I think this will definitely be in the spotlight, based on what I see,” Brooks added.