A recipe for success
THE WORLD is almost unrecognisable from eyes more than 40 years in the future. The rapid expansion of tastes and the reach of the individual has changed the world. The culinary world, especially in Barbados, has grown immeasurably in just a few short decades. And it continues to evolve.
In 1974, Howard Palmer opened The Ship Inn in St Lawrence Gap and created a place for entertainment and to provide locals and visitors with an experience. A year later, Palmer looked West and in 1975 opened up The Coach House on Barbados’ Platinum Coast.
“It was interesting times. A year earlier I had opened The Ship Inn on the South Coast—that was May of ’74. So, we thought we’d do a similar kind of thing on the West Coast,” Palmer recalled.
“When you’ve been open that long, a lot of things change with the times”, he said.
He continued, “The Coach House started out as a bar. Sally Miller from Ins and Outs of Barbados was our first manager and when we first started to move towards becoming a restaurant it was her and June cooking a big shepherd’s pie. From there we expanded—we started serving salad!”
The late ‘70s and early ‘80s were a much different time and The Coach House was the scene for memories that will last lifetimes.
Palmer drew up another memory from the old Coach House, “I remember Keith Miller once had to ask Paul McCartney to leave because he was playing the piano and he had no shoes on.
Keith had to say, ‘you’re not allowed to come in without
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HOWARD PALMER, owner and founder THE COACH HOUSE was opened in Payne's Bay on Barbados' Platinum Coast, (gp)
of The Beach House. ( csg)
NEIL FREDERICK makes the final touch to a cocktail, (csg) function for Hilton where we had about 500 people”.
Any holiday is an occasion to come to The Beach House. Mother’s Day is always big and Father’s Day is catching up and getting bigger than it used to be. The Beach House responds to the calendar and caters accordingly. Old Year’s Night, especially, is always treat.
“It’s important for us to keep everything affordable and at good value because we are also providing an experience,” said Palmer. “Someone came in the other day that was obviously having a bad day and Neil, our barman, was so understanding and served him in such a cheerful manner that he ended up having a great time and left smiling. That’s what it’s all about.
“When we first started in ’75, I would say we are in the food and booze business. Now we’re in the entertainment business. We provide an experience. People deserve a friendly experience and we’re here to create that.”
For Palmer, “Our staff is the heart and soul of this place. I have to say thank you to all the staff and our customers; they’re the ones that have kept us going. The key is in the staff. The strength of Barbados is in its people and the atmosphere that they create.”
any shoes on’. So, he left and came back about ten minutes later and continued to play the piano”.
The Coach House was always well known by Barbadians. For Palmer, “We not only catered to the ex-pat and tourist market but we really had a lot of Bajans that came every week.
“Twelve years ago we had the opportunity to move from The Coach House down in Paynes Bay next to Sandy Lane and come here and be on the ocean. So, that seemed like an obvious move,” he said.
Over the years, the game has changed, but The Beach House has evolved with the times and continues to shape itself. “When we started out we catered to the market. Back then there were ex-pats looking for ex-pat food, but then you always had to have that local little bit of spice in there to jazz it up.
“Right now our chefs are Guyanese and Barbadian and each one will add something special and particular to their dishes. Our menu is mostly fishdriven, it’s locally driven. We don’t do mussels, we do things of the Caribbean. We don’t sell salmon; we sell Mahi Mahi and barracuda. We do souse on a Sunday and we do roast breadfruit.
“We get tourists who are looking for a little bit of adventure in their food, but we also do the expected items, like a classic burger.”
A rarity in the restaurant business, “A lot of the team at The Beach House had been with me for many, many years. Not only is this a family restaurant in that families are welcome, but we’ve all known everybody for a long time,” afforded Palmer.
“It’s not easy to be successful in the restaurant business. It’s been an interesting time and we have achieved it, I think. It’s a people business and you’ve got to keep your customers happy all the time”.
“Our Sunday buffet is still our most popular time. We get a lot of people after church for that Bajan buffet. But we have our regular menu going on at the same time.
“We do a lot of special events for people— weddings, birthdays, anything. We can handle large functions or small and intimate ones. We did a