A vision with a view
Joan Forde is a woman with a plan. She is determined to succeed in the hospitality sector first as a restaurateur and in about two years time, a small hotelier.
She told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that Bella La Vue, located in Ragged Point, St Philip, has only been operating for a month and although business is not bustling at the moment she is sticking it out.
“I opened this because people from St Philip would have to go to Christ Church or all the way town and driving back at night could be a problem,” she said.
The former nurse worked at a Hotel Forty in Birmingham, England, during vacations from school, starting out cleaning shelves and working her way up.
“Opening a restaurant was something I longed to do. In fact, I opened a restaurant here in St Philip called Struggles on the same plot of land, then I went back overseas and I rented it out to some people,” she recalled.
That subsequently closed but that did nothing to dampen her goal of reopening.
“When I first came to Barbados, I used to buy land when it was really, really cheap like three and five cents a square foot. What I’ve done over the years is that I’ve bought a lot of land so I was able to sell some of it and invest it in this new property.”
One of things the businesswoman emphasized was her love of pleasing people which started during her days at the hospital in Strafford Upon Avon. So she wants the people of the rural parish of St Philip to feel at home when they stop by.
“It is a joy; I love it. Working as a nurse you get to see people, you get to help people,” she added.
Her menu includes the staples such as pork and chicken but Forde and her staff of five serve up lobster, shrimp and Bajan favourite, souse on Saturdays.
She takes pride in her business’ service, whether it is to Barbadians who might stop in for breakfast on the way to work, for lunch or dinner, returning nationals who might want somewhere to hang out and the tourists who drop by after visiting the area to see the lighthouse.
“In the four weeks we’ve been opened it’s been really slow because we’re new, of course, but I’ve had a few enquires for Christmas and Old Year’s Night parties and we’ve had a couple functions, family reunions which are very exciting,” Forde said.
She is hopeful that the professionals who want to unwind after a hard week at the office will stop by for drinks and not worry about the distance they have to go if they were in Christ Church or the City.
Part of the service Forde is offering would allow them to pre-order their drinks so they would be ready before they arrive.
Despite the slow start, things are looking up as there are a few bookings for weddings scheduled to take place in December. There will be employment opportunities as well because she will have to hire additional staff to ensure the functions are adequately covered.
“We can do wedding receptions with rooms for brides to do overnighting. We have a pool and can do pool parties,” she said
Della La Vue sits on land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Forde intends to take full advantage of that fact. “It is so beautiful up here,” she gushed.
“In a year’s time I expect to expand and build a few cottages on the property – it is seven and a half acres – and probably do a little village. The plan is in the mind. I haven’t approached Town and Country Planning yet because I’ve yet to find where I would get the funds to do it.
“I would like to do this in the next two years. I would like to have eight cottages, two and one-bedroom. I will achieve this all on my own, no partner involved or anything, just me,” Forde said.
The entrepreneur would like to use more locally grown vegetables something she does not do enough of presently. While she said she is looking to build a relationship with farmers from the area, her plan is to plant more food which will then be served in the restaurant. This would stop her from “running out every day” and buying what she needs.
Even though she would like to have more patrons at her young business, she has no intention of giving up on her dream and will stick it out through the highs and the lows. (Green Bananas Media)