As entrepreneurs, Analdo Ramjitsingh and his common-law wife Jineal Chichester, have always put their heads together to develop and execute business plans.
But an accident on Saturday last week forced the couple, owners of Naldo’s Peri Peri Grill at Lady Hailes Avenue, Cross Crossing in San Fernando, to close business "until further notice."
Police said a driver lost control of his car at about 9.30 pm. The car crashed into the couple’s mobile food cart. On impact, Ramjitsingh and a worker, Kurton Chichester, were thrown from the cart into the road.
Two customers, a 13-year-old boy, and his mother from Diamond Village in San Fernando, were also hit.
Jineal Chichester was breastfeeding her baby in a parked car on the cart's right side when the crash happened. Her mother-in-law was nearby helping with sales.
"We are a team. This is the first time in history doing business (since 2013) we don’t know what to do. We always have innovative ideas. Thank God we have a family that supports us. This is not only emotional support but also financial," Jineal Chichester told Newsday at the family’s Marabella home on Friday.
"How do we move forward? We have no idea. We are thankful for life."
On Thursday last week, a Facebook post from the business' official page said the closure was due to tragic and unforeseen circumstances.
The post thanked everyone that called, messaged and helped the couple through this difficult time.
The couple opened the food cart business in September and did several catering jobs for events during the 2020 Carnival season.
"That money pushed us through the pandemic. It costs more than $50,000 to repair the cart," Jineal Chichester said.
Ramjitsingh and Chichester previously owned two businesses —Chi’s Café at Bamboo Village in La Romaine and Chic Ultra Lounge at Duncan Village in San Fernando.
Owing to overhead expenses, they were closed down.
"This set us back. We opened during a pandemic, and the response was amazing. We thought we finally got a break," Chichester said.
"It is one thing to rebuild the cart, but how do we survive in the interim? We had a booking in Tobago for five days from April 1."
Ramjitsingh added, "We started seeing our way. We had big plans, and 2021 was looking up. The night of the accident was a busy night for us."
The night’s earnings were in his pocket. When he was thrown, the money scattered.
"I know the outcome could have been worst. There was a pot of hot oil nearby.
"When my mother saw me flying in the air, she said it felt as though she was in a movie. She ran towards me to try and brace the impact of the fall."
Ramjitsingh said he intends to formally write to the San Fernando City Corporation asking for a waiver on the vending space's rental fees. The fee is $3,000 quarterly.
The couple has another business — Cheesecakes House. However, the outlet for Cheesecakes House was Naldo’s Peri Peri Grill.
"We used to have cheesecakes on the spot at Naldo’s. Now we do not have a retail outlet," Ramjitsingh said.
Despite business setbacks in the past, the couple held charitable drives. They cooked and distributed food to flood victims at Kelly Village, donated clothes to people, and distributed food to a migrant group in La Romaine.
"We are the ones who always go out and help others. We gave out of the goodness out of our hearts. Although we help people, it feels difficult to ask for help."
The day after the crash, a cart owner (Wingman) from Aripero gave the family a box of baby supplies.
Anyone willing to help can contact the family at 473-8205.
Investigations into the accident are ongoing.