Port of Spain food sales slow on Monday

Food ready but no customers in sight: Upstairs Town Center Mall there were no customers seen purchasing food after  restaurants were allowed to resume business on Monday. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton
Food ready but no customers in sight: Upstairs Town Center Mall there were no customers seen purchasing food after restaurants were allowed to resume business on Monday. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

Slow sales were reported by many of the food outlets which reopened for business in Port of Spain on Monday.

Vendors who offer breakfast said they were hampered by the curfew hours.

At Susa’s Kitchen on Duke Street, owner Angelina said business had been slow, as she had had to open at 7 am, later than the normal opening time.

“How the curfew (ending) at 5 am, a lot of people who are working and travel, they’re coming to work later, so they would make a sandwich. And they don’t have money to spend on food either.

"We’ve only had five customers for the morning.

It was a slow morning at Susa's Kitchen which opened it's doors on Monday as restaurants resumed business. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

"Thankfully we didn’t make too much food, we made four or five things, and two are already done, And we’re not cooking a lot for lunch. Maybe next week things will pick up.”

Doubles vendors Najim and Sons on Chacon Street were sold out by 9.30 am, but said they didn’t prepare as much food as they normally would.

“We came out at our normal time, 6 am, and our line stretched to Independence Square due to the distancing measures: we had people standing six feet apart. It was good. We’re trying to keep the three Ws (wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance).

"Normally we wrap up at 11 am for the latest, but we closed early today because we sold out.”

Nicolette Ashby, an employee at Subway, prepared a sandwich for a customer on Monday as restaurants resume business. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

At Subway on Independence Square, supervisor Nicolette Ashby said breakfast sales were slow, with a trickle of customers.

“We’re hoping that things will pick up. We’re going to be opening at 7 am to make sure our staff could come out after the curfew.”

Owner of D’Bocas Restaurant and Bar Laird Agard said they were preparing for people to come out for lunch.

“We’re taking it slow. But it’s a positive sign that we were able to reopen, as we have been closed for 15 months. We’re one of the unfortunate ones where the bar and restaurant really coincided with one another, so it’s just good that we’re back out to work and we can make an income. It’s been a really difficult time.”

Nichelle Moseley, a cook at "D" Bocas Restaurant and Bar on Independence Square, prepares for their expected lunch hour customers on Monday. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

He said he hoped people would get vaccinated so that the bar could also reopen.

“The more people get vaccinated, the more things can reopen. Vaccination is the key. I hope the population of TT does their due diligence and gets vaccinated, because it’s a correlation.”

Food courts in malls on lower Frederick Street were open, but a common complaint was that sales were slow.

At Excellent Mall Food Court, where only three of the seven food outlets were open, one owner said she had her grab-and-go boxes ready to be filled, while an employee at Sasha’s Carvery said they were hoping for the best, as the business opened for breakfast at 7, but had very few customers.

Food ready but no customers in sight to purchase at Excellent Mall in Port of Spain on Monday. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

TY’s Delight had a full range of food on offer. A worker said she really hoped people would come out.

“We have been out of business for two and a half months, so we’re hoping to get some customers. If we don’t sell it by this evening, we’ll feed the mall workers – we’ll have to give it away. We have daily specials on offer.”

At Jumbeans Coffee on Frederick Street, customers were seen enjoying shakes and snacks.

“People have been coming in to get breakfast. So far they’ve been buying pies and sandwiches.

"The crowd hasn’t come out yet, and lots of people are still home. A lot of the people who normally come to buy are still home. It’s just the banks that are open, and whatever government buildings are close by.”

Ali’s Roti in Town Centre Mall was the only place open in the food court. Co-owner Alicia Ali said the branch which sells breakfast, which is in Nicholas Towers on south Independence Square, wasn’t able to open because of the curfew hours.

“Normally the workers would have been at work by 4 am, so we’re forced to keep that branch closed for now, because it’s very difficult to have breakfast ready for 6 am when you can only get in for 5 am. So it really is hard for that time. So that branch remains closed.

Owner of Ali's roti shop Alicia Ali said the business, which is located upstairs Town Centre Mall, had a slow start after her team made preparations for the reopening of their business on Monday. - Photo by Marvin Hamilton

“Here it’s been really slow, but we’re letting our customers know, and as they come up we’re hoping it will pick up. The stores aren’t open and normally our customers would come from the workers and the shoppers, so it will be a slow start. But we are thankful that it’s open.”

Fast food outlets remained closed or opened later than normal. Mario’s Pizzeria and KFC on Independence Square remained quiet.

On social media, KFC said only fries, chicken, and sandwiches would be available. Burger King advertised specials on the Food Drop app.

Wendy’s sent out a notice apologising for not opening restaurants today.

“Our shipment of raw materials has been delayed," it said, "and that is critical to us serving you the entire menu with our quality ingredients. Receipt of these items is imminent and we will soon be open for you to enjoy your Wendy’s. Sorry for the inconvenience, The Wendy’s Team.”


"Port of Spain food sales slow on Monday"

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