Restaurateur Nathalie Koll said that making the decision to relocate her business was bittersweet; however, due to the “economical down turn” it only made good business sense.
Koll, who leases the Dive-In Marina Bar and Restaurant revealed that she and her staff would be relocating to Taino by The Sea at the Taino Beach Resort.
She spoke to this daily during an exclusive interview at UNEXSO on Thursday, January 18 about the move for the restaurant that is currently located at UNEXSO, Port Lucaya.
Koll said that February 11, 2018 will be their final day at the Dive-In. The Koll family had been leasing the restaurant since September 2011.
“Every year there’s been a decline from 2011, every year it has gotten worse and worse,” she admitted.
Koll added that ever since Hurricane Matthew’s devastation in October 2016 and the closing of the Grand Lucayan and Memories Resorts have negatively impacted all local businesses, including her own.
“Ever since then without the hotel being around that changed everything, there is no more overnight guests and we just cannot survive from just the cruise ship passengers,” she said.
Koll noted that those circumstances influenced her to move her staff favorite menu items and Starbucks items to the new location. Currently, there are nine persons employed at the restaurant and Koll informed that she is trying to accommodate all of them.
She also plans on adding some special events to the schedule once they move, such as a Sunday Brunch and keeping their bonfires on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
“We’re just looking to make that product better and find more attractions to get the locals,” Koll said.
She also shared that the Uppercut 242 Band, which plays at the Dive-In on the last Saturday of every month will also being moving to the Taino by The Sea Restaurant.
David Mackey Uppercut 242 Bandleader and President, CEO and Creative Director for Mackey Media stated that the band will be holding a special farewell concert soon at the location.
“The final concert will be on January 26, which is Friday … we’re going from the marina to the ocean,” he said.
He added that they’ve had many great memories performing at the restaurant, but they are excited to try another location.
“The food is incredible and it’s a family environment that you can feel safe to bring your kids, we’re excited that it’s going to go over to Taino, it’s a great location,” he said.
Koll noted that although the business has been “hanging on by a thread,” she is trying to remain positive that things will turn around on the island, economically. However, she cannot wait on that hope any longer.
In December 2017 Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that a Letter of Intent (LOI) had been signed on to by an entity of Hutchison Whampoa, the Cheung Kong Properties Holdings and the Paul Wynn Group of Canada, the top representative for the Government in Grand Bahama, on Wednesday issued a follow-up communication.
Shortly after that announcement Senator Kwasi Thompson, the Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister stated that the LOI is a significant advancement of the lengthy, ongoing negotiations towards activating a major component of the tourism/hospitality artery of the island; which could result in hundreds of people gaining employment.
She stated that it could still be a long time before the Grand Lucayan and Memories Resort are reopened if it does happen.
“Just my personal feelings, even if they had new owners, and the new owners were given the keys tomorrow, if they’re going to be branding it, let’s say Hilton comes in they all have their specifics. So by the time go and they tear down walls and buy the specialty mattresses and whatever to meet with their standards, as far as I see it, and this is with them getting the key tomorrow, it’s at least a year away,” she said.
Koll stated that the Government needs to start utilizing and marketing what is currently available on the island instead of putting all of their “eggs in one basket”. She suggested pushing tourism beyond the cruise ship and focus on overnight guests by appealing to boaters, retirees, she even proposed fixing the hospitals and upgrading medical care on the island.
“We have so many opportunities here, for fishing and we just don’t take full advantage of what Grand Bahama has to offer,” she said.
She noted that in the past 20 years most of Grand Bahama’s leading resorts have closed down, such as The Princess Hotel, Xanadu, Grand Lucayan and Memories, what’s left cannot sustain the local economy.
“I think they should broaden their product and find the niche that they’re missing,” she said.
She shared that when she was growing up in Grand Bahama, Freeport was frequently visited by multi-million dollar yachts and luxury brands such as Gucci, Cartier, and Versace had shops on the island and hopes that the island returns to its former glory.