Slow sales at Hellshire as customers stay away
Recently, it's been tough going for vendors and restaurant owners on the Hellshire Beach in Portmore, St Catherine.
For fear that the new coronavirus, COVID-19, will spread beyond control and possibly claim lives, the beach has been closed. Businesses are now left to come up with new strategies to stay afloat.
"It is a challenge, but I am not afraid of challenges. I'm always a go-getter," Donnette Prendergast, managing director of Prendy's on the Beach, told THE STAR.
The beach's closure means there's no traffic. Usually, large flocks of people would be in and out, many stopping to get lunch, and even dinner.
Time for innovation
"There's no dining but we have to be innovative. My staff is preparing right now for almost 400 orders for tomorrow for takeout. If customers not coming to you, you have to find a way to go to your customers. If you don't want to lose the business, don't lose your customers," she said.
Prendergast admits that there has been a dip in profit.
"Great good is going to come from this. I hold fast to the word of God. You have to do something ... . I don't want to send home my staff. I told them, 'Let's work it out ... you might not be able to get your usual full pay'. They are my family. At this time, I have to be like a mother hen," she said.
Ian Williams and his father have been operating a restaurant on the beach. Ian has been there for 35 years; his father - for more than five decades. They have never seen business so unsatisfactory.
"Last year Lent was far different. Yuh know seh a fish time and people a eat fish and a buy cooked fish fi bring home. On a regular day, in here busy ... the whole a here so woulda full a vehicle. Me woulda in the kitchen right now a fry festival. Now, customers a call, order and pick up. Dem nah stay," Ian said.
But he noted that his business is not new to takeout.
"We usually do it, but now, it get more serious. People come and pick up dem fish in a dem car and gone. A one and two people used to call and order," he said.
Glenmuir Green faces a similar dilemma. The words "business slow" rolled off his lips with ease.
"Regularly, the place full ... people inside, coming from out of the water and ordering fish. Nobody is here now," he said.