Mon | Jun 14, 2021

Fire low under Little Ochie pots as pandemic rages

Published:Tuesday | May 4, 2021 | 12:19 AMTamara Bailey/ Gleaner Writer
A section of Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant 
and Bar, Manchester.
A section of Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Manchester.
A staff member at Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant and Bar prepares to serve customers.
A staff member at Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant and Bar prepares to serve customers.
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ALLIGATOR POND, Manchester:

The diversification of menu and delivery options is what the owner and operator of the popular Little Ochie Seafood Restaurant and Bar, Evrol ‘Blackie’ Christian, has had to employ to cushion the blow from what he describes as millions in losses since the start of the pandemic.

“You just have to try to meet your customers at their door…. I now offer - in Junction, Santa Cruz, and Mandeville - a daily delivery service, and that is mainly for people who are afraid to come out due to the pandemic,” said Christian.

The restaurateur said a considerable number of sales are made from returning residents who are spending heavily on larger, packaged trays of fish.

However, many of those persons fall within the vulnerable groups and are no longer venturing outdoors for any form of recreational activities.

As a result of the reduction in sales, the business, with an initial staff complement of 38 persons, according to Christian, can now only accommodate 16 employees weekly, for two weeks each month.

“Some workers have left because they say it can’t really work out and they need something better. But for now, this is what we have to do to make it work,” said Christian.

SEAFOOD CARNIVAL

Not only is the businessman in limbo over low sales, he said the annual seafood carnival hosted by the restaurant, which is the main earner, will have to be cancelled, yet again, to remain in compliance with the Disaster Risk Management Act.

“We would be in preparation mode for the carnival now, but we can’t do anything. It’s a big thing for us because it attracts people from even overseas. People plan their vacations around the carnival to come eat and drink all day, all night, so that is big revenue lost,” Christian said

He added: “As for other days, the 4.p.m. curfew on a Saturday is a bit more flexible, but the 2 p.m. on a Sunday is very hard because by the time the Kingston people reach here, they can’t stop and eat. They have to just take the food and leave. I don’t know what new announcement the prime minister will make, but I have to obey the curfew, social distance, and health protocols.”

With the hope that the Government offers a grant for businesses that continue to be adversely affected by the pandemic, Christian said he is hoping that the economy will survive and businesses will be stronger for having experienced numerous setbacks.

“Even the fisherfolk are under pressure because they sometimes cannot get the market for their items. I can only buy what I know will sell. I can’t buy the excess. Just like every other crisis, a lot of people will be left behind, and a lot of people will do better when the economy turns around. The poor may be poorer and the rich will get richer. We have to just put in tactics to stay afloat.”