The Spot still going strong after 70 years in business
Many businesses have come and gone over the past 70 years but one traditional Bermudian owned and operated restaurant has always been a constant.
The Spot Restaurant, which is based in Burnaby Street in the centre of Hamilton and is run by owner Thomas (Ted) Powell, opened in the early 1940s by Arthur Foote, an entrepreneur who had other restaurants in the area.
Rumour has it that the restaurant was won by Manuel Marirea in a poker game and together with his wife Rita the couple ran it as part of their mini empire, with Mr Mariera also serving as the bar manager at the Inverurie and Belmont Hotels.
Having sold the business to Aubrey Hollis and Stanley Greenslade who renovated the place, moving the kitchen to its current location which used to be a patio where candlelight dining was held, the Marieras soon returned to buy it back prior to selling it again to their nephew Dennis Sousa, only to return for a third time.
Mr Powell, who has been in the restaurant trade for 41 years when he acquired first the Blue Moon in Bermudiana Arcade in Queen Street on June 10, 1971 and then The Spot on October 15.
Since then he has run the restaurant with several different partners including David Exell, Ernie Roberts and one of his brothers Robert Powell.
With his father and eldest brother running the Old Homestead pub (formerly Rolleys now MarketPlace at Heron Bay) in Southampton, he got a taste for the business from an early age (his mother first taking him to The Spot aged eight after church on Sundays) and following a short spell working for a lumber firm and at the LF Wade International Airport he joined the family tradition.
During his time at the helm Mr Powells business model has remained the same take care of the customer first and foremost by providing a top quality service and good food at a reasonable price.
His mantra can be seen throughout the restaurant from the cheery manner of the staff to the continual throughput of contented customers who come in for a round meal or to catch up with old friends. It is epitomised in a notice posted to the drinks machine which reads: The only boss is our customer. If they are not satisfied with our goods they will take their business elsewhere.
And just like his teams work ethic, the place has changed little during his tenure with a total refurbishment of the kitchen and the addition of a dining room in the space of a former retail outlet 18 years ago.
I remember when I first bought the place there was wood panelling on the walls, said Mr Powell.
We have tweaked a few things here and there but essentially it is the same favourite place that everyone likes to come to.
We have a very loyal customer base of Bermudians and returning visitors and if they dont always frequent us then they often support us by recommending the restaurant to tourists on the buses, in the taxis and at the hotels.
We get everyone in here from the pan handlers in the street to MPs and actors who used to perform at the Bermudiana Theatre.
I have seen several generations come in here people I used to know when they were younger are now bringing their own kids.
Another constant has been the staff with a team of 12 working a two-shift pattern overlapping at lunchtime and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner between 6.30am and 7pm from Monday to Saturday every week.
The restaurant also roasts around 50 pounds of fresh turkey every day in everything from home made soup to sandwiches a fact which Mr Powell is rightly proud of while its club sandwich of international repute and its home made hamburgers have become very popular in recent times. Old fashioned milkshakes are another favourite, while Bon Appetit magazine sent a letter to Mr Powell eight years ago requesting the recipe of the restaurants famous apple custard pie. Such is the notoriety of the name that he was even sent a load of T-shirts by another The Spot restaurant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
One factor that has changed has been the rise in inflation as reflected in the cost of food, with a menu from June 16, 1971 listing Bermuda fish chowder for 55 cents and fish on a bun for 95 cents. Today a fish chowder is likely to set you back $6.50.
Not immune to the recession, with a drop off in volume over the past two years, Mr Powell came back to hands-on manage the restaurant full-time in February 2011 to ensure the best possible delivery of service with business starting to pick up again last month and some encouraging signs for the future.
Giving the customer the personal touch and making sure that they are happy is the part of the business that I enjoy the most, he said.
A lot of people return to Bermuda having gone overseas but they always enjoy coming back to The Spot and seeing a familiar face to make them feel at home and they always know what they are going to get with a consistent quality of food.
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