Burch: Gombeys product not enhanced by owner

  • I delivered: Gombeys owners Marlon and Sara-Lee Laws. A petition called “Save Gombeys Bar Clearwater Beach” was also launched on Change.org. It had nearly 3,000 signatures last night, in the wake of news their lease would not be renewed (File photograph)

    I delivered: Gombeys owners Marlon and Sara-Lee Laws. A petition called “Save Gombeys Bar Clearwater Beach” was also launched on Change.org. It had nearly 3,000 signatures last night, in the wake of news their lease would not be renewed (File photograph)


The closure of an East End restaurant is a significant loss to Bermuda, its owner said last night.

Marlon Laws, the owner of Gombeys Bar & Restaurant, in St David’s, said that the establishment was an integral part of the island.

Mr Laws said: “Gombeys is Bermuda — it’s like losing a part of Bermuda. When you come through those gates at Gombeys, you’re not a number. We’ve become family.”

Mr Laws’s lease expired on Saturday.

He was speaking last night in response to a statement issued about the concessions at Clearwater Beach.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said that “every effort” had been made to help Mr Laws to “provide a comprehensive proposal” to retain control of the concession.

A request for proposal was issued by the Bermuda Land Development Company.

Colonel Burch said: “Management, and the board, have gone to considerable lengths to assist the current leaseholder, to no avail, and have made what I consider the appropriate decision, to give other Bermudians an opportunity to make Clearwater a greater success, without dramatically changing the character of the Clearwater experience.”

News of the end of Mr Laws’s lease led to online conversation about the reasons behind the decision.

A petition called “Save Gombeys Bar Clearwater Beach” was also launched on Change.org. It had nearly 3,000 signatures last night.

Colonel Burch said that an “open and transparent competitive process” had been conducted. He added that Mr Laws, his family members and his lawyer had been told that his bid had not been successful on November 22. Colonel Burch added: “The assertion that the owners have not been given a reason is patently false.”

He said that Mr Laws was told in a letter in April 2016 that the site would go out to tender when his lease expired on April 30, 2019.

Colonel Burch said that the BLDC had met with Mr Laws in July 2018 to discuss a lease extension and remind him of the RFP process. He added: “BLDC extended his lease to November 30, 2019, in order to allow him another full summer season to operate while reiterating that the concession will be put out to tender.”

Colonel Burch said that BLDC had identified the standard of service provided by Mr Laws “as not meeting the minimum expected of an operator at Clearwater Beach”.

He added: “He had been asked over the years to enhance the product and his level of service.”

Colonel Burch said that Mr Laws had also been told “since at least 2016” that the BLDC “was looking to enhance the experience and the facility”.

He added: “Despite outreaches and warnings, no action was taken nor help sought to enhance the facility.”

Colonel Burch said that Mr Laws had submitted a two-page letter as his response to the RFP “that indicated a desire to leave everything the way it was with no improvement”.

But Mr Laws said that he did not believe he should have been required to submit a bid in the first place.

He said: “Why should I have to put in a proposal? I put it in 14 years ago. I delivered. I brought the place from a derelict skating rink up to a five-star rated place that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.”

Mr Laws said that the end of Gombeys was more than just the closure of his business.

He said: “It’s like I’m losing my life.”

To view the statement from the Minister of Public Works and the RFP for Clearwater Beach concessions, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Dec 2, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 2, 2019 at 7:13 am)

Burch: Gombeys product not enhanced by owner

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