Garshell Lawrence employed six people up to November last year when a fire destroyed the restaurant he operated in Croft’s Hill, Clarendon, leaving him on a frantic search for employment.
“I just want a work right now – even to work for somebody for the time being. Right now mi naah work,” he told The Beacon, adding that he is now in Old Harbour, St Catherine, trying to regain his footing.
Lawrence, who was born and raised in Lluidas Vale district, St Catherine, launched his restaurant business in Clarendon in 2013.
Before that, he learned to cook in his hometown while he worked at a restaurant that businessman Neil Peart operated inside the Glenmore McLean Market.
Lawrence eventually left his community to study auto mechanics in Clarendon.
His love for cooking, however, did not die.
It was rekindled when a grand opportunity appeared for him to venture into the restaurant business.
Lawrence, in 2013, leased a building in Croft’s Hill that had enough space to operate a restaurant and a bar.
He rented the bar to another person in order to fully focus on his restaurant operation.
The restaurant grew rapidly – employing six people, developing a strong reputation for delicious food, and forging a strong link with small poultry farmers in the Croft’s Hill area.
Lawrence said he eventually named the restaurant Satisfying Souls; he subsequently have it registered in that name.
“About two weeks after I register the restaurant and put a copy [of the certificate] in it, it burn down,” he told The Beacon, adding that his loss include some 33 pots, two refrigerators with goods, a microwave, two stoves, and a glass display case.
Recounting the time of the blaze, Lawrence stated that he was at home about 4 o’clock on the morning of November 29 last year, when police officers informed him that fire flattened the restaurant overnight.
Fire personnel eventually visited the location and carried out cooling down operation.
“I have no idea what caused the fire,” Lawrence declared. “We didn’t leave any fire in the restaurant for it to burn down. The business closed early the Wednesday evening – after 8 o’clock, because we did have a big order for the Thursday.”
Lawrence, in the meantime, said he wanted to rebuild the building that housed the restaurant, but the owner of the property disagreed.
“I plan to rebuild it, but it was never my place. The owner lady said she was not leasing the place again; she going to make a house on it,” he further disclosed.
Lawrence stated that he has been affected significantly by the blaze, adding that the incident has a domino effect on his former employees, chicken producers in and around Croft’s Hill, and people who sell chicken feed.
“It affects me bad bad, and a lot of people I used to buy chicken from in order for them to send their kids to school out of it,” he explained.
“Since the building burn down, people call me like everyday, asking if mi naah fix it back because their chicken is not selling. Even the people who sell chicken feeding are calling me, because they said the feeding is not selling fast as when I was there… A lot of people talk about the fire. Even people from foreign call and bawl, saying they can’t believe the restaurant really burn down.”
Lawrence is adamant that, although the blaze has slowed him significantly, he will, again, lift his restaurant business from the ashes.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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