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New beach grill with welcoming vibe

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Funky shack: owners Alison Marshall and Erroll Burgess in front of colourful BQ Beach Grill (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

With food fresh off the grill, and a terrace overlooking beautiful John Smith’s Bay, Bermuda’s newest beach restaurant looks to have a winning combination.

Add the sunny disposition of owners Alison Marshall and Erroll Burgess, and a variety of chilled music, and the vibe at BQ Beach Grill is decidedly welcoming.

The funky beach shack opened last Wednesday, serving fish, chicken, shrimp, hamburgers, hot dogs, their speciality dish of “sea shells”, which are sliced and seasoned potatoes, as well as salads, a “sizzling boat” of fresh vegetables cooked on the grill, and cold drinks.

Customers may bring their own wine or beer, which is kept chilled in the shack’s “community cooler”.

Mr Burgess has spent his life working in hospitality, while Ms Marshall is on summer break from her teaching job at St David’s Primary. They operated a beach concession at Fort St Catherine Beach in St George’s three years ago until work began on the St Regis hotel property. The business partners said they’ve been working on getting the proper permissions to reopen on a beach.

The colourful shack, which sits atop heavy duty decking, is painted red, orange, blue, green and pink. “We’ve got it all — the colours stand for joy, happiness and family,” Ms Marshall says.

Mr Burgess said: “We’re trying to create a local, island-vibe spot with a mature, funky, fun and relaxed atmosphere. We will attract a mixture of tourists and locals, but we want to make sure locals feel comfortable here. Tourists want to go where local people go. Locals will be the cake, and tourists will be the icing on the cake.”

After graduating from the hotel management programme at Bermuda College, Mr Burgess worked at Ariel Sands, Hamilton Princess, Once Upon a Table, the Newport Room at Southampton Princess, and Riddells Bay Golf and Country Club, in various capacities. He also ran the Halfway House in Flatts for seven years, winning “Best of Bermuda” awards for best burger, best codfish, and best local fare.

At BQ, Mr Burgess is the chef manning the grill, while Ms Marshall works the front of house, welcoming and serving customers. On its second day, the shack was doing a steady trade on a weekday afternoon.

“It looks like it’s going to be a booming business,” Ms Marshall says. “We are getting a lot of shoutouts on social media, it’s really blowing up. Tourists love it — they say they’ve flown all over the world, and huts always have the best cuisine.”

Mr Burgess added: “After a couple of days, it’s looking pretty great. We had a fantastic first day, everyone has been really positive. We are getting excellent feedback. People can pretty much get what they want here.”

The entrepreneurial twosome wished to thank MPs Derrick Burgess and David Burch for helping them negotiate the bureaucratic process, as well as government park planner Jameka Smith for her assistance in getting the business up and running.

Permission has been granted for BQ to be open from May 1 until October 31, but the owners are hoping that deadline might be extended since they got a late start to the season.

The menu includes $3 sea shells, $4 hot dogs, $5 hamburgers, $6 chicken on a bun, $10 fish on a bun, and $15 shrimp. Salads range from $10-12, while smoothies are $6.

BQ Beach Grill is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11am until 7pm, and Friday through Sunday from 11am “until”. It is closed on Mondays. Beginning on Sunday, they will serve breakfast, including cod fish. omelettes and breakfast sandwiches, from 8am until 11.30am.

Appetising view: the outlook from seating at BQ Beach Grill at John Smith’s Bay (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Congenial hosts: BQ Beach Grill owners Alison Marshall and Erroll Burgess (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
BQ Beach Grill(Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Idyllic spot: John Smith’s Bay Beach(Photograph by Akil Simmons)