Operators split on round-the-clock opening of St Lawrence Gap
A St Lawrence Gap operator has come out strongly against any move to transform the once popular entertainment circuit into a 24-hour venue, saying operators who have pressing for this to happen need to be “reasonable”.
Other business owners have been calling for longer opening hours in the Gap, and have suggested that a 24-hour scenario would bode well for their establishments, which they say are presently reeling under a 2 a.m. curfew.
However, restauranteer Sean Defreitas said any such decision needed to take into account the concerns of the hotels and residents in the Gap.
“It is a consistent fight between the business owners and the hotel owners and the people that live in the area over whether or not it should go to 2 a.m. or five in the morning or six, or in some cases the whole 24 hours,” Defreitas, who is also the owner of the Boat Yard on Bay Street, St Michael told Barbados TODAY.
He was adamant that operators were not “being fair” on the issue.
“Having parties go on for 24-hours in the Gap will not be fair to the people who live in the Gap,” he stressed, adding that it also “would not work with the hotels in the Gap”.
“These same hotels are the hotels you need to feed off of, to make those restaurants and those businesses work,” Defreitas said.
During a recent walk through of the south coast thoroughfare, several operators told Barbados TODAY that the time constraint was eating into their bottom line.
Some even blamed the situation for the closure of businesses, such as the After Dark, The Ship Inn and McBrides, as well as low patronage at the Reggae Lounge.
However, Defreitas argued that the Gap was never meant to be a nightclub area, given its location in the heart of the tourist belt.
“Historically nightclubs were always in the City,” he explained. “For many years Cavan’s Lane in Bridgetown was the area for nightclubs in Barbados. There were two or three night clubs in that area, there used to be the old Boatyard, which is no longer a night club, there was Harbour Lights, but they were all in the City district,” he said, noting that “in recent times a lot of that [activity] has drifted into St Lawrence Gap”.
The businessman called on other operators to be cognizant that the area would always be a shared corridor.
“We have got to be reasonable if we are going to work together to make it work. We need to find a happy medium and I think that they [authorities] had tried to find a happy medium at one point in time.
“I think they tried to cut off at 2 a.m. and then they extended it to three certain times of the year, which would be, around Crop Over time and Christmas time. They even extended it to four in the morning and so on, on particular nights, which is reasonable, I think. But to call for a 24-hour thing, I don’t think they [operators] are being fair”.
Spokesman for the St Lawrence Gap, Maxwell and Dover Residents Association Adrian Donovan agreed.
He told Barbados TODAY: “The proprietors of the entertainment properties need to understand that there are still a number of residents who live in St Lawrence Gap and who were there before them.
“Their welfare must be taken into consideration,” Donovan said, while maintaining that whatever new timing was suggested would be a problem.
Defreitas however made it clear that he was not opposed to party establishments operating in the Gap, though adamant that there should be “no late night nightclubs”.
“We have this idea that a nightclub must be something that goes on to five or six in the morning, that is not so,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“You have nightclubs all over the world that finish at two or three in the morning and they are extremely successful clubs. So it is not to say that a club can only be successful by opening its doors at one and closing at five [in the morning],” he stressed.
“People still enjoy the little thing at Hal’s in the Gap where you come and sing a little karaoke and drink around a bar. They come and enjoy Café Sol,” the businessman said.
However, Defreitas said that did not mean that they were necessarily requesting nightclubs.
“The average visitor or tourist to this island, wherever he comes from, is accustomed of going home by two o’clock in the morning. We as West Indians are accustomed to going out at one in the morning and coming home at five or six, but that is us as West Indians.”
However, given that St Lawrence Gap is a “shared use corridor”, he said “I would think that you would want it to be more geared at the same visitors and then the locals can go in and use those facilities that go to two or three in the morning and be happy with it.”
He advised: “Leave that area; shut it down so that everybody can go back to being peaceful and quiet until the next morning again. Then have those if they want night clubbing move and go back to the City areas where nightclubs should be.
“If I had my way and if I had to speak to any nightclub owner I would say, ‘move your nightclub into the City area. Go back to Cavan’s Lane and redo it, make it nice, make it an area where nightclubs can thrive and have proper security, policing and so on and its back in the City, not right up under people’s houses.”
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