Call To The Bar: Family affair at Blue Flame Bar
From the corner shop to the conglomerate, family-owned businesses are a part of Jamaican commerce.
Blue Flame Bar, on East Queen Street in downtown Kingston, is no different.
Sisters Desrine Findley and Shantau McKenzie own the popular drinking spot which was left for them by their grandmother, Lorna Mitchell.
Mitchell, who was originally from the Maxfield area, owned the bar for decades, but as she got older, she decided to give it to them to continue the legacy.
Findley always had the entrepreneurial spirit, as she used to sell polish and bleach not too far from her grandmother's business. But running a bar was a different matter.
"I never even know how to pour a half flask or anything like that," Findley laughed.
McKenzie admitted she had never been involved in running a business at all. Neither had worked in the bar even when Mitchell was there.
But they were adamant that they could make it work. Mitchell passed away in 2010, but Findley and McKenzie have made sure their grandmother's legacy didn't die.
"We knew it would do well," said McKenzie. "We wanted the bar so we put everything into it that we can." That commitment has seen great success at Blue Flame Bar.
By the way, the Blue Flame name comes from a sound system the sisters also operate. So any time there is an event at the bar (they host a weekly round robin), it's sweet music and good vibes.
But it wasn't always smooth sailing at Blue Flame Bar. It closed down a couple of times in the early stages, but it has come back stronger than ever.
"It (the original bar) was old so we had to remodel it," said McKenzie. "It was mostly some of the older men because the bar had been around for a long time. But after the remodelling, we started getting younger people. It attracts them."
The modern look of the place definitely causes heads to turn.
"A lot of people are passing by, look in, and just stop and come by. They love that it's big and spacious and clean," said Findley.
She said that like any bar, they have their loyal customers, including persons who they grew up with.
Having achieved success with Blue Flame, they're not opposed to the idea of opening another bar because space at their current location can't be expanded.
But the future is bright, and anything is possible.
So with all the liquor they have on sale, what's their favourite mix? The answer would surprise you.
"We both serve in the bar, but we don't drink," laughed Findley.