Call To The Bar: Althea's hilly haven in St Bess

November 02, 2017
Althea always welcomes customers with a warm smile.
Althea flashes a bright smile outside her bar.
Althea serves up one of the favourites.
Althea's Sunrise Pub in St Elizabeth is quite the rum spot.

Like a lighthouse welcoming weary sailors, Althea's Sunrise Pub in Top Hill, St Elizabeth, attracts thirsty travellers from far and wide. 

You can see the J. Wray and Nephew branding as you ascend the hilly community, and once inside, an impressive shelf, and a warm welcome from owner Althea Johnson greet you.

She is a daughter of the community, but did spend part of her life in Spanish Town as well.

She opened Sunrise Pub about 16 years ago, and despite having its ups and downs, she said her little spot on the hill has been doing just fine. 

"I used to work in some bars around the area, and I used to close like 4, 5 in the morning," she said, laughing that she used to beg customers to let her go home. "So that's why I'm still in it (bar life) to this day because I have my customers same way."

She said family members encouraged her to open her bar and so she started to seek out places, before finding her current spot. 

"My customers are mixed. You have returning residents, mostly 'big man', and the farming people Dem," she said.


But it's not just her tried and true customers who keep her doors open. 'Miss Althea' has established quite a relationship with younger patrons as well.

"They say they prefer me over the bartender dem because when they go other place, is like the bartender dem on dem phone," she said. "Me will sit down and talk wid dem, and show dem certain things. Dem like to reason wid we." 

And it's easy to see why they would. Johnson can hold a conversation on every topic, from the latest entertainment news to sports.

She admitted she is surprised that she's been in business this long, noting that there have been many challenges and young entrepreneurs have opened up spots over the years.

But being a shrewd businesswoman, she knows how to maximise her profits.

"You have to have business sense. So whenever I sell my product, I always think about replacing that stock. That's why shelf always stay so," she said. 

Over the years, she has hosted more than her fair share of parties, cars lining the main road seemingly for miles as patrons can't get enough.  

Neither can the popular rum company, who always include her spot in their promotions, stretching across brands like Magnum and Appleton.

Persons always feel safe and comfortable at Althea's Sunrise Pub. That's because like a mother hen, she is always on the lookout for any potential trouble.

"That's why my customers love me, because I always look out for them. Bartenders can always find another work, but I have to protect my place and my customers," she said.


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